The Black Dahlia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Black Dahlia Reviews

September 23, 2006
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.
September 23, 2006
The pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
September 23, 2006
The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.
September 23, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 20, 2006
Mr. De Palma and his collaborators have been unable to translate Mr. Ellroy's depth of feeling into cinematic equivalents.
September 15, 2006
There are moments when The Black Dahlia projects a spectral world, but its ghosts in broad daylight are elusive at best.
September 15, 2006
The Black Dahlia feels wobbly and uncertain.
September 15, 2006
Despite genius-level contributions from cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and art director Dante Ferretti, the handsome film is almost abusively murky, trafficking in difficult-to-follow plot manipulations, arbitrary twists and mumbled dialogue.
September 15, 2006
In The Black Dahlia, narrative strands tangle and wither, and minor characters clutter the plot.
September 15, 2006
What it accomplishes with its stunning cinematography and set design is undercut by a lack of coherence.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Black Dahlia wilts from a surfeit of incident and a shortage of credibility, owing to a script by Josh Friedman that eventually turns to soap and performances that approach the hilarity of a Guy Maddin melodrama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Despite some weaknesses, The Black Dahlia remains curiously fascinating.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 15, 2006
With the exception of Aaron Eckhart, De Palma's actors can't live up to the period or the atmosphere.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
De Palma throws everything at the screen, but almost nothing sticks.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Josh Friedman's screenplay doesn't so much distill the flavor of James Ellroy's hard-boiled writing as serve up indigestible chunks of verbiage.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 15, 2006
The Black Dahlia is a NASCAR race all but ended by a spectacular wreck on the next-to-last lap.
Read More | Original Score: 2/5
September 15, 2006
A wrongheaded collaboration between two opposites that has too little of James Ellroy's mad passion and too much of Brian De Palma's irresponsible style.
Read More | Original Score: 1.5/4
September 15, 2006
Brian De Palma drains the life out of James Ellroy's take on the spectacularly cruel 1947 murder of a young Los Angeles woman known as the Black Dahlia.
Read More | Original Score: 2/5
September 15, 2006
Visually dazzling but ultimately disappointing.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 15, 2006
The convoluted plot would be exhausting even if it were believable. It isn't.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Brian De Palma spent three years struggling to get The Black Dahlia made, which helps explain why the movie has the feel of something that was left in the oven too long: It's both overcooked and undernourishing.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Despite some amusing distractions, watching the big picture coalesce is not unlike watching someone complete a jigsaw puzzle. It all comes together eventually, but you already saw the image on the box.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
September 15, 2006
Dahlia seethes with atmosphere, and Hollywood's underbelly is always worth an ogle.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 15, 2006
No wonder The Black Dahlia has the suffocated tint of a face starved for oxygen -- this isn't film noir, it's film bleu.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
If you like any of the lead actors, don't go see this movie. If you like good movies, don't go see this movie. If you're a steady customer at Helga's House of Pain, this one's for you.
Full Review | Original Score: D
September 15, 2006
It's easier to navigate the highway system of modern L.A. than keep track of the ever-shifting tone and direction of The Black Dahlia, and the cast appears at least as perplexed as we are.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
This fictionalized tale of two Los Angeles detectives assigned to the gruesome 1940s murder of a real-life wannabe starlet begins as a slow but intriguing character study that gradually unravels into a turgid mess.
Read More | Original Score: C
September 15, 2006
The zoot suits and fedoras look great, but without a script or hard-eyed private detective in sight, it's merely a production designer's exercise.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 15, 2006
Such a heinous crime would seem ideal for the man who gave us Scarface, but Mr. De Palma uses the murder as a springboard for pretentious social commentary and garish exercises in camp.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
September 15, 2006
Such a shame that The Black Dahlia collapses into a gruesome pile of steaming camp in the last half hour.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 15, 2006
Director Brian De Palma will probably take the rap for this tepid noir, but the real culprits are Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, red-hot lovers in life but (as ever) gorgeous stiffs on-screen.
September 15, 2006
Since The Black Dahlia more or less tells the story of an actress, a heinously murdered one at that, it makes sense that the first thing you notice about this so-so adaptation of James Ellroy's novel is the shoddy acting.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
September 14, 2006
The best you can say about The Black Dahlia: For people who like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing they will like.
Read More | Original Score: 3.5/5
September 14, 2006
The Black Dahlia, set in the 1940s, exists to make L.A. Confidential look like God's gift to noir by comparison.
Read More | Original Score: 1.5/4
September 14, 2006
There are some virtuoso moments (the discovery of the mutilated corpse is extremely well done and blessedly ungraphic), but overall the result is much less than prime De Palma.
Full Review | Original Score: B
September 14, 2006
There's more moral weight in one paragraph of James Ellroy's somber 1987 novel The Black Dahlia than in all 121 minutes of Brian De Palma's florid, sprawling, self-satisfied film version.
September 14, 2006
In reaching for tragic grandeur and psychological complexity, the movie takes on a lot of baggage that it can't quite carry.
Read More | Original Score: 2/4
September 14, 2006
The Black Dahlia is an essay in incoherence. The confusion wouldn't matter if there were any feeling onscreen, but the blood and innards seem missing from the movie, too.
September 14, 2006
Brian De Palma's film honors Ellroy's grim prose but can't accommodate his byzantine plot. What seems rich and intricate on the page is tangled and impenetrable onscreen.
Read More | Original Score: 2.5/4
September 14, 2006
Swank's character and her performance are good enough to merit a movie of their own, instead of serving as fourth wheel to this lifeless ménage à trois.
September 14, 2006
As the plot becomes more convoluted, the tone more overripe and the performances heedlessly over-the-top, the picture digs its own film noir grave -- all look and no substance.
Read More | Original Score: D
September 13, 2006
It's an old-fashioned noir made in the gallows-smirk spirit of L.A. Confidential.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
August 30, 2006
The second half feels heavy and unfulfilled, potential greatness reduced to a good movie plagued with problems.
August 30, 2006
A literally ripping good yarn is undercut by some lackluster performances and late-inning overripe melodrama.