Monday, April 30, 2007

The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia (Brian DePalma, 2006) [4]
First things first: I think Brian DePalma is a hack. I've never cared for anything he's done and I think he lifts too much from other director like Hitchcock that he has no real personal style. There is never any originality in DePalma's films; they always remind me of this film or that film. That's not exactly the case with this film. It doesn't exactly recall any film but it seems that DePalma's goal was to re-create the classic film noir of the 1940s. It really is a big disappointment seeing that I'm a big fan of film noir and this film is muddled, boring, and shabbily acted. The film is based on a James Ellroy novel (I've never read Ellroy so I don't have anything to say on his style) but that book is based on a real, gruesome murder in Los Angeles in the 1947. The novel takes liberties with the Black Dahlia case and that's a major issue with me in the film. The film goes ahead and solves the crime when in fact it's still an unsolved case. It's not that I have problems with taking creative license; it's just that it's really not the way I would have liked to see it handled. In fact, the murder case itself only plays a small roll as most of the film seems to be concerned with the two former boxer detectives and their relationship with a woman caught in the middle. The real problem of the film lies in the performances, especially with the Josh Hartnett robot, who couldn't be any emotionless and wooden and still be a living, breathing human being. Same goes for Scarlett Johansson, who has never impressed me in anything. Aaron Eckhart gets all fiery and excitable (Fire & Ice, get it? - like being hit over the head with a sledgehammer) but seems ridiculous more than serious. Hilary Swank gives a credible performance, and it took me forever to realize that it was actually her in the film. And while the Dahlia herself doesn't play that strong a role, when she is featured in screen tests, Mia Kirshner makes her the only character with some real feeling. I'll say that no actress does more solid acting without wearing clothes as she does. I didn't go into this film expecting much. For once, I wasn't disappointed.

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