Devil in a Blue Dress - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Devil in a Blue Dress Reviews

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½ August 31, 2016
You know those movies that you keep buried in your backpocket in the event that you want to show a friend or significant other something they might not have seen? I have a few, but Devil In a Blue Dress is definitely one that I find myself referring more often than not. I pulled it out of the crates recently for the wife and I to watch and ended up appreciating it way more than the first time I saw it.

Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlings (Denzel Washington) is fortunate enough to be one of the few black men in 1940's California to own his own home. After getting fired from his job at a nearby plant, he is forced to take on a private investigating assignment in order to keep that home. His job is simple: Track down the whereabouts of a one Daphne Monet. The money is great, but it takes him down a road of intrigue and murder that he never expected. He has to get to the bottom of the mystery while warding off the cops, the crooked man that hired him, and two highly elected officials who also happen to be looking for Daphne.

The film can be confusing at times as it take a lot of twists and turns. It definitely requires your complete, undivided attention. It's a good thing that the mystery is so intriguing you can't help but pay all the attention you can afford. What begins as a film about a man trying to locate a missing person quickly turns into a story that you realize has multiple layers. Interesting Motives. Plots and subplots. It has everything you need to keep you glued to the television.

Denzel's performance was stellar as it typically tends to be. He's charming when he needs to be, but can flip the script in heartbeat and take on a more intense nature. His range never ceases to blow my mind.

He slightly, and I mean just slightly, outdid Don Cheadle's performance as Mouse, Easy's crazy, reckless friend from Houston. Anytime Mouse was in a scene it meant that trouble could happen at any moment. Seventy-seven seconds. That's literally how long he was on screen before he shot his first person. Clearly a man that doesn't have time to waste, his hastiness is also endearing as he is willing to rush to a friend's aid at the drop of a dime. He doesn't have to say much to leave you laughing. He's got a number of lines that stick out, but my personal favorite was: "You just said don't shoot him, right? Well, I didn't. I choked him."

Devil In a Blue Dress is a memorable, phenomenal movie that will stick with you long after you've watched it. I give it a 92.
February 13, 2016
Classic Film Noire that is underrated with strong performances from Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle
½ January 28, 2016
This is a real gem of a movie. I read the book a year or so ago and since then two others in the Easy Rawlins series. This movie is exceptionally faithful to the book in both substance and style. It annoys me that everyone seems to want to make this a race movie when it is really a good mystery set against the backdrop of racism and abuse, much like the great historical novels tell a good story with the historical backdrop. It is a shame that this movie did not launch a franchise.
January 4, 2016
?Devil in a Blue Dress? is a film with the same blood as a Raymond Chandler novel pulsing through its veins: hard-boiled, appropriately serpentine, lightly quixotic in its pulp, and penetrated by an aura that makes the misery, violence, and doomed romances of film noir curiously erotic. Like an aging rock icon sipping black coffee with their twentieth cigarette of the day in hand, an iconically cool look regards the frame, anguish certainly there but difficult to see underneath the smoky semblance.
So we could say that ?Devil in a Blue Dress? suffers from the fact that much of it is familiar, its edgy dialogue, sweltering ambience, and stylistically sensational setting updated but certainly too focused on paying homage to the days of Bogie and Bacall to really stand on its own two legs. It has too many debts to pay, afraid to go out on a limb and subvert everything we?ve come to know. The only things permeated over the years that are missing here are Hays Code diminished linguistics, black-and-white, subtle sensuality, and a primarily Caucasian cast. Everything else is film noir 101.
But ?Devil in a Blue Dress?s? unfortunate dependence on its sheen does little to diminish the frank commentary on the part of writer/director Carl Franklin, whose willful magnification of race relations in 1948-era Los Angeles gives the film fortuitous depth that only makes it an homage in terms of style, its substance mostly flirting with Dashiell Hammett radness but often times turning to deeper cultural thinking that makes it feel as authentic as it frequently doesn?t.
It stars Denzel Washington as Ezekiel ?Easy? Rawlins, an everyman whose livelihood is suddenly crushed after abruptly getting laid off from his job at Champion Aircraft. A WWII-veteran, he is not one to crumble under the weight of unemployment, willing to do anything to at least pay off the upcoming month?s mortgage payment. So he considers himself to be a fortunate victim of the hands of fate after he is asked by DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore), a mysterious stranger, to play private eye and find Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), a missing white woman said to be hiding the outskirts of the black neighborhoods in the area. Her disappearance holds great importance, as she is the girlfriend of Todd Carter (Terry Kinney), a mayoral candidate whose recent dropping out of the race stumped and still stumps the residents of Los Angeles.
As in all film noir (this one especially is reminiscent of ?Farewell, My Lovely?), everything is not what it seems, and Miss Monet is part of a much more arduous plot than what is initially revealed. A standup citizen with good morals, Easy is not an experienced detective but a newly minted one, making the seedy characters, the dangerous situations that come with the territory, as shocking to him as they are to us.
Besides its believable but not overtly dominant reminders of segregation during the time, ?Devil in a Blue Dress? is conclusively more of the same. Yet devouring one?s popcorn is never a belittled factor. Appearances by slinky femme fatales, by thugs, by shady characters, is never something that grows tiring, and that?s why ?Devil in a Blue Dress? is a pastime that works. It reinvestigates already established style with eminent passion while also producing social waves not seen by most film noir of the time period, and it?s invigorating.
?Devil in a Blue Dress? is a mixed bag, though a good one, and Washington, along with an underrated Beals, take done-to-death character archetypes and breathe life into their well-dressed carcasses. I just wish it weren?t so worried about the ultimate factor of tribute ? it wants to break borders but is often held back by a recognizable approach.
December 17, 2015
Period-feel noir that would never have been made from this viewpoint in the 40s.
October 29, 2015
Has one of the best plot twist of all time
½ September 26, 2015
Terrific film noir throwback with a uniquely African American perspective. What makes this film so special that it's not just a modern take on film noir, much like how Roman Polanzi brilliantly did so with "Chinatown," but this film manages to seamlessly infuses issues of race in America with a genre that has largely ignored the African American perspective. Outside of the novels of Chester Himes, I'm really at a loss to come up with any sort of period noir films or crime novels that were told from an African American perspective. In this film, Denzel Washington plays WWII vet Easy Rawlins who's simply trying to I've the American Dream of owing his own home working an honest job. However, Easy loses his job and is forced to take on a suspicious private investigation case to locate a missing woman, the titular devil in a blue dress. The film unfolds like a classic Raymond Chandler Phillip Marlow mystery where a simple case goes down a serpentine rabbit hole of colorful characters, double crosses and assorted criminal activity. There are very few films that really manage to accurately recapture the classic feel of nor, but this film very nearly reaches the highest of the best of modern noir, and is worthy comparison to "Chinatown." Washington is terrific as Easy Rawlins in what I had hoped would have turned into a series of film for author Walter Mosely's character. Seeing Easy code switch between white, black, rich and poor world is fascinating (speaking as someone who is privileged to not have to do that). This example perfectly illustrates what this film dos so well, illustrating issues of race, how African American's are forced to change the way the communicate depending upon who they are talking to, but the Easy's ability to code switch also serves the film's story. The film's ultimate reveal about the woman's secret who he's looking for does this same thing as well, serving the film both thematically and also serving the film's mystery narrative. Besides being having a smart story and script, the film features a wonderful supporting cast. Tom Sizemore is a very scary henchmen. Maury Chaykin plays a very creepy millionaire. And Don Cheadle very nearly steals the film from as Easy's loose cannon friend Mouse. Tak Fujimoto provides the film with a gorgeously shadowy 1950s Los Angels. Elmer Bernstein composed a classic throwback style score. And the period detail in costumes and set designs are equally strong. I'm really disappointed this film wasn't a hit and that writer/director Carl Franklin was not able to continue adapting Mosley's series of books. Overall, this is a terrific film.
May 3, 2015
One of Denzel's earlier and best roles. This is a classic whodunit in the vein of older film noirs that doesn't suffer from a lot of the missteps other more recent ones have made. What really sells the film is the score and setting, which bring to life the period and characters.
April 5, 2015
excellent performances from Don Cheadle, Denzel, and Tom Sizemore. it's a somewhat recycled story but it's still an original and hard hitting noir. do NOT miss Don Cheadles performance!!
½ February 23, 2015
Denzel Washington turns in a great performance as an untrained investigator getting pulled into a web of lies. Easy's got a lot of bravery, but in the 1940's almost every neighborhood is the wrong side of town for him. In one scene Easy waits on the pier and a strange teenage girl casually starts up a conversation with him, naturally her boyfriend feels threatened and a his buddies almost attack Easy. In another, the cops are willing to blindly convict him of any crime they can find. It's not a surprise that this could happen to a black man in the 40's, it's just that elements of racism towards the lead are rare within a noir film. The visual dynamic is also very weak never playing towards the genre.
There's an interesting exploration of the idealized life in his neighborhood and the mad dogs that could take it away from him at any moment. Easy is a homeowner who's friendly with his neighbors. He lives on a quiet, family-friendly street, but he associates with nightmarish people. Don Cheadle is malevolently insane as Easy's old friend, Mouse. Mouse is on Easy's side but there's such a dark intensity Cheadle brings to the movie, that he could shoot anybody at any second. The juxtaposition of these two lifestyles make for an fascinating contrast, more fascinating than the main mystery at hand.
Denzel is superb (as per usual) and the sociological views are intriguing enough, but the main story doesn't break enough new ground to be anything amazing.
Super Reviewer
½ February 16, 2015
The basic plot isn't terribly interesting, but it's racial politics are . . . it's unfortunate that Franklin and Washington never got to make a film series with this character as I have a feeling that it would be one of the rare times a sequel would improve upon the original.
½ January 18, 2015
Very good movie. Don Cheadle was that nigga lol
September 26, 2014
A neo noir drama that incorporates stylish acting, witty humour and a damsel-in-distress is probably the perfect recipe for a couch experience. Denzel Washington as expected excels as Easy Rawlins, an out of job commoner who gets entangled with the wrong people. He eventually plays the hero and saves Daphne Monet (played by Jennifer Beals) from the wicked hands of the evil bureaucrats. May be not that simple, but the whole story somehow revolves around that simple premise. Don Cheadle plays Mouse, a trigger happy friend of Washington's who helps him in his cause.

Don Cheadle breathes a bit of fresh humour into the movie, and never lets it become too serious, which probable is the reason why this can be considered a step up from the classic film noirs. Based on an African American background, it is indeed a great watch on a nice evening after work.
½ July 4, 2014
A great story line which is acted brilliantly by Beals, Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle, even if the execution at times can get confusing. Great 40's Noir cinematography.
May 23, 2014
very good period piece crime mystery
May 21, 2014
This role was from the start made for Denzel to play. Not to mention trigger happy Don Cheadle as Mouse was a delight.
May 3, 2014
Thanks to Jessica Korneder for recommending this, though I found myself searching for The Devil Wears a Blue Dress (I'll assume it was my error and not JK's). So then I searched for Denzel Washington Wears Prada, and that didn't work either. In any case, it really hit the spot for me, as Jessica correctly predicted. I was a little depressed and drag-ass this morning and had decided to blow off my workout and just go to Behaviorlandia and pout. But instead, I went to Behaviorlandia, NetFlix streamed the Devil on my 61" screen with my quintuple surround sound and got so happy that I grabbed my rubber exercise tubes and worked out through the whole movie. (Well there was a confounding, as my recovery from drag-ass depression might have in part be attributable to the 200 MG NoDoz I'd taken; however, in accord with our BATS Practitioner Model, we're happy with treatment packages.)
But enough about me (or almost enough, actually there can never be enough) Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle blew me away, as did the soundtrack.
Of course, most of you are not as cool as I am and, therefore, are probably not cool enough to appreciate the great jazz/blues/1945-ish soundtrack; but I know Travis Thompson and John Pokerwinski certainly are and would certainly enjoy the music. And it would be a great cultural opportunity for the rest of you who might have such lofty aspirations.
With love,
Uncle Dickie
April 25, 2014
One of the finest film noir mysteries made since the 1940's, and one of the few to successful use color. A true classic, worth owning and seeing again and again. Excellent music too!
April 5, 2014
Near classic that makes one wish the same filmmakers had adapted more books for sequels.
January 7, 2014
A dark and brooding film captures the essence of Mosley's novels, washington is amazing as the Ezekiel Rawlins and Tom Sizemore is disturbing as the sadistic Albright. Extremely well crafted and executed. With a great sense of humor to boot, it is fantastic.
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