The Black Dahlia (2006)
Critic Consensus: Though this ambitious noir crime-drama captures the atmosphere of its era, it suffers from subpar performances, a convoluted story, and the inevitable comparisons to other, more successful films of its genre.
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Critic Reviews for The Black Dahlia
The pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.
Ellroy's prose crawls into characters' secret hearts and under the reader's skin, but its foetid horrors become kitschy here, the script too streamlined and the lead performances too shallow to dredge the story's depths.
The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.
This is far from one of the director's better efforts and should be avoided by all those who are not sworn De Palma boosters.
Mr. De Palma and his collaborators have been unable to translate Mr. Ellroy's depth of feeling into cinematic equivalents.
There are moments when The Black Dahlia projects a spectral world, but its ghosts in broad daylight are elusive at best.
Audience Reviews for The Black Dahlia
Based on James Ellroy's novel, that is in turn based on one of the most notorious unsolved murders of all time, this represents another step in Brian De Palma's increasing irrelevance. That's harsh, I know, but sadly it's true. This had potential to be good, and there's a great film to be made on this subject, but this isn't that film, and almost all of the potential is squandered. A major problem is that a lot of the time, the murder of wannabe actress Elizabeth Short takes a back seat to the story of the partnership between two detectives, and how the case (and other issues) are affecting them. It's plodding, meandering, and, while I'm okay with complex movies, this one is just too convoluted and messy for its own good. Not only that, but perhaps worst of all, you really don't care about the people or what happens. The film is populated by well known performers such as Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, and Hilary Swank, as well as wonderful character actor Mike Starr, but none of them really impress all that much. I do like how Eckhart, and especially Swank do these really pronounced "actor-y" accents, but they've all been far better elsewhere. Being De Palma, the film is shot well, with trademark camera moves, angles, and expressive lighting, but that's really the only highlight. The music is typical for period piece neo-noirs, but unfortunately just made me think more of the music from Chinatown than anything else. All in all, this is a real letdown. I like De Palma, or rather, I try to find enjoyment out of his place in film history, but it really bugs me that he's gone downhill, especially since I really don't know why.
The Black Dahlia was a film that I was really looking forward to seeing. Upon its release, I saw it, and was very, very disappointed in what I saw. This was a film that had so much potential and it was wasted. Brian DePalma has a solid cast of actors, yet his direction is sloppy. I thought that the films premise was good, but halfway through the film, everything falls apart, and the film just drags on, and becomes boring, unimpressive and dull. I think if the film would have been trimmed slightly in length, and the material reworked, The Black Dahlia could have been a stellar mystery film. Unfortunately, not even the excellent cast can save this boring film. The film had plenty of potential to being great, but instead it suffers from long, tired scenes of painful dialogue and the film's story just lingers and goes no where and when there's something that actually is interesting that happens, it's too little too late. The end result is a film that doesn't satisfy and really just disappoints. I thought this film was ultimately terrible, and is one of DePalma's worst efforts. The film could have been good, but DePalma's directing is unfocused and doesn't know where he wants to take the audience, therefore we're left in a boring trance trying to figure out really what is going on. Well, that's not hard to guess, there's nothing going on here, except a potentially great mystery thriller that has been wasted by a director past his prime. That's about it. The Black Dahlia is a boring, dull film and if you're looking for an excellent murder thriller, this film definitely isn't it. I think it's a shame that Brian DePalma wasted such a varied cast of talented actors and I think that if the film would have been directed by someone else, this film would have turned out quite differently. Avoid.
Despite this brilliant cast with equally brilliant performances, I could tell from the very start that I wouldn't like this film. It's far too wordy and I just couldn't understand what was going on. It was very difficult to follow and felt like it lasted an age.
The Black Dahlia Quotes
|Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert:||The basic rule of homicide applies. Nothing stays buried forever. Nothing.|
|Emmett Linscott:||Hearty fare breeds hearty people. Haute Cusine breeds degenerates.|
|Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert:||Who's this?|
|Madeleine Cathcart Linscott:||Balto. The paper is the L.A. Times for Aug. 1, 1926. Balto was bringing in the paper when Daddy found out he made his first million. And he wanted to consecrate the moment, so he shot him.|
|Kay Lake:||Do you have a girlfriend, dwight?|
|Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert:||I'm saving myself for Rita Hayworth.|
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