There are two
ways to watch “The Black Dahlia.”
You can make a serious effort to understand the motivations of the
characters in this story of the most famous murder in Hollywood history;
or you can forget the story, sit back and enjoy director Brian De
Palma’s gorgeous sets and lurid pictures of post-war Hollywood.
be surprised if you chose the first option, and try to figure out
character motivation. Well,
good luck. This is one of the
most muddled and overwrought film scripts I’ve encountered I some time.
I doubt a second viewing will help.
Still, I was
kind of hooked. Brian De Palma
can do that—get you to surrender to the picture and forget the story;
don’t worry who murdered and mutilated an insignificant actress in 1947.
You will find out at the end of the movie, even though the real
murder has never been solved.
So yes, I did
stay to the bitter—and ludicrous—end, not because I cared, but because
I was having fun seeing all the Hollywood movies De Palma was referencing,
all the camera and lighting and editing techniques he loves to use.
obvious rip-off for me was Polanski’s 1974 “
The cast is
so-so. Josh Hartnett and
Eckhart, the police investigators, are given some pretty awful dialogue;
Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank look their parts, though Swank adds a
bit of complexity that gives some credence to the plotline.
The big surprise for me was Mia Kirstner who plays the murdered
actress Elizabeth Short. De Palma films her scenes in gorgeous black
and white, bringing out all the hopes and despair that the best film
noir of that period had to offer.
The big surprise for me was Mia Kirstner who plays the murdered actress Elizabeth Short. De Palma films her scenes in gorgeous black and white, bringing out all the hopes and despair that the best film noir of that period had to offer.
I’m not a
huge fan of “
R for strong
violence, some grisly images, sexual content and language