The Black Dahlia

I wanted to like this movie. No, scratch that. I wanted to love this movie. It has all the elements of a perfect crime-noir thriller: Brian de Palma directing, based on a novel by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), a grim, gruesome real-life murder AND Scarlett Johansson. How could it have gone so wrong?

I won't say that the movie is terrible, because it's not. It's simply not great. It's not what it could have been. There are some wonderful scenes and some great performances. Many times it feels like a pitch-perfect 1940s crime flick, but, sadly, not often enough. The film is not greater than the sum of its individual parts.

To be honest, my biggest problem comes down to a casting decision. One of the main conceits of the film is that two of the characters look so much alike it's eerie, okay? This is, like, the lynchpin of the entire movie. And the two actresses who are portraying the supposed lookalikes? They look nothing alike!

Hilary Swank is all manly-looking with her square jaw and boxing acumen and Mia Kirshner is, you know, actually attractive. So that just never worked for me.

It's just weird. The acting is fine throughout. The directing is fine. I love the voiceover narration by Josh Hartnett's character. Everything is good on its own. I don't know if it's the editing, the story itself, but when it all comes together it all falls apart.


Anonymous said...

I'm more keen to see Hilary Skank in that plaque movie. That looks awesome! I'm more keen to see Fincher's serial killer movie (whose name escapes me), than Black Dahlia.

-The Writer

1031 said...

Fincher's movie is called Zodiac,, which I definitely have high hopes for. It's been nearly five years since Panic Room and I've been jonesing for a new movie from him.

Alissa said...

One of my problems with the movie was that I kind of thought there were too many plot points up in the air at once. It got kind of exhausting trying to keep track of everything that you knew would come up later even if it didn't make sense in the moment. Mostly it was the characters that weren't really in the movie, but were mentioned and important. Maybe that is just me and my laziness talking though.

1031 said...

No, I think you're right about that. I had an easier time following the story of Syriana than I did this movie.

It just kind of felt disjointed from time to time.