Mulholland Falls - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mulholland Falls Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Super Reviewer
July 7, 2017
Released in 1996, Lee Tamahori's Mulholland Falls has largely been overshadowed by the Oscar winning L.A. Confidential - which followed a year later. Although I often find fault with the Academy, on this occasion, I'm not going to split hairs them and argue that Tamahori's film is as good, because it's not. But that's no shame in Tamahori's efforts as, for me, L.A. Confidential is one of the best films over the last 20 years. Mulholland Falls is a very admirable attempt that doesn't deserve to have become a forgotten addition to L.A. themed noir.

Plot: Post WWII, Los Angeles sees the LAPD set up a special crime unit known as "The Hat Squad". It comprises of four no-nonsense Lieutenants: Max Hoover (Nolte), Ellery Coolidge (Palminteri), Eddie Hall (Madsen) and Arthur Relyea (Penn). They are tasked with controlling organised crime within the city - even if it means breaking the law themselves - but when they find the crushed body of a young woman, it opens up some personal demons for Hoover. Her death also implicates the involvement of the U.S. Army and attracts the attention of the F.B.I.

Over decades, L.A. Noir has become a sub-genre all to itself. For many, Chinatown is the epitome but my preference is the aforementioned L.A. Confidential. I think Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgaland done a fantastic job in developing a coherent script from a very difficult James Ellroy novel but all that aside, L.A. Noir isn't always an easy endeavour. There are some that promise so much but fail to deliver - Gangster Squad being a recent example of how it can go wrong. In order for stories of this type to be effective, there are many things that need to come together; the cast, the script, the cinematography and the music are all important to setting the mood and, for the most part, Mulholland Falls manages to capture all of these.

First of all, Tamahori assembles a very impressive line-up of performers which lends the film an epic feel and the script by Pete Dexter captures the requisite mystery and intrigue to hold your attention. Haskell Wexler's cinematography precisely captures the time and Dave Grusin provides an evocative and dramatic score. The production design by Richard Sylbert is also flawless as you should have no problem feeling like you're back 1950's L.A.

Everything fits here, but it's only as the film comes to the denouement that it starts to falter and if any fingers must be pointed, they'd have to be pointed to Pete Dexter's script. Things make less sense as the film draws to a conclusion. The tempo is accelerated to the point that you feel like Tamahori may have been under studio pressure to finish within a certain running time. This is such a shame, as the film is genuinely entertaining and very particularly paced up until that point. It's the exclusion of Chris Penn and Michael Madsen in the final third that lead to some questions over the film being butchered in the editing suite. And this comes just around the time of the film's reveal. The reveal itself is acceptable but it would have been more effective had it not been fumbled. That said, the only reason this stands out is because the earlier part of the film is so measured and involving.

Benefitting greatly from its attention to mood and atmosphere, there's much to admire here. It's a reminder of how strong a presence Nolte can be and he's supported by an impressive ensemble. Mulholland Falls is a damn good slice of noir that enthusiasts will take plenty of enjoyment from.

Mark Walker
May 26, 2017
I Love It,,, Love'd The Timing,,, Great Story Line For a Bomb Shelter Baby... I'm Also a Huge Nolte,,, Melanie Griffith,,, and Chazz Palminteri Fan... No It's Not "Casablanca",,, But It's Plenty Entertaining...
February 11, 2017
A wasted opportunity,
May 16, 2016
It's an interesting story, but it does fall short in a lot of ways. I really like the cast though so it's worth 3
September 16, 2015
The acting is okay I guess, not as good as I thought it would be with a star studded cast like this movie had. I have to admit that I have never been a big fan on Nick Nolte, I have nothing against him I guess just never was a fan. The direction is nothing great either, I have heard the name of the director, Lee Tamahori, but not because he did some great film. The big problem with this movie is the writing. Both the dialogue and the story are somewhat of a bore. Plus I thing the story is also a bit ridiculous. The highlight of the movie is the performance by Melanie Griffith, the worst part was the use of Jennifer Connelly. I say use but it was more of a waste, she is beautiful and basically she is used as a pretty face, but she is also so talented at more or less her acting talents are a waste.
May 5, 2015
Slightly unfinished movie but entertaining visuals.
½ April 9, 2015
I will give it what Roger Ebert gave it.
½ March 29, 2015
Not to be confused with the far superior David Lynch film 'Mulholland Drive' this LA noir is stylish and entertaining but 'LA Confidential' released a year later succeeds much, much better. The ensemble cast is good but the characters are mostly undeveloped. This is a beloved genre for me and the extra half star is probably just my soft spot for LA in the 50s.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
February 8, 2015
The glory days of the chain-smoking LA cops' "hat squad" are brought back in this stylish neo-noir conspiracy thriller. They represent a tough, no-nonsense approach to criminals, with just the right amount of smart-aleck humor thrown in (not annoyingly constant like The Expendables). Director Lee Tamahori captures all the atmospherics and details of the "atomic age." The cast is fantastic, led by emotional performances by Nolte and Griffith. Jennifer Connelly is a mesmerizing, enchanting beauty. She plays a world-wise girl who still manages to stay fresh-faced.
The spot-on recreation of LA's bygone glamour era, the conspiracy-laden plot, and the excellent cast highlight this film. I'm a sucker for neo-noir, and although this isn't quite Chinatown, it is a valiant effort. Tamahori and writers Dexter and Mutrux even chose to end the film on a down note. The squad's broken up, and Griffith leaves Nolte, exclaiming "You broke my heart, Max." Noirs shouldn't have happy endings.
½ December 26, 2014
I remember being disappointed in this film when it first came out, but rewatching now, this film really does offer a lot of pleasures for film buffs. I'll still stand by my initial impressions that this film should have been a whole lot better and was hoping for a better film, but despite a weak script by the usually reliable Pete Dexter, this film's style, look and cast are enough to carry the day. Taking a a bit of famous Los Angeles history, The LAPD's Hat Squad who were given carte blanche to keep the mob out of LA no matter what the means, as the jumping off point, the film starts with the murder of a call girl which then leads to government conspiracies and coverups. This film has all the film noir hallmarks that went into "Chinatown" but this film doesn't have that same level of gravitas when it came to balancing the character elements and the story's larger conspiracy. Despite the weak script, director Lee Tamahori brings a beautiful level of style and grace to the film, which is greatly aided by gorgeous photography by Haskell Wexler and production design by the great Richard Sylbert, who also did "Chinatown." There's also an unbelievably strong cast that includes Nick Nolte, Jennifer Connelly, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Melanie Griffith, Andrew McCarthy, Treat Williams, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern, Kyle Chandler, Ed Lauter, Louise Fletcher, Rob Lowe, William Petersen and Virginia Madsen. Nolte is commanding in the lead and this film served as a reminder to me of what a great actor his his. It also made me wish Nolte has let himself star in more tough guy parts, because he is a total badass in the film. He's so great at rage slowly building below the surface and then exploding. If nothing else, rewatching this film made me want to watch some more Nick Nolte films. Maybe I'll check out "Farewell to the King" again. Jennifer Connolly is also a standout as the murdered girl, who in just a few scenes manages to loom large over the entire film. And not to come down too hard on the script, it does have it's moments, like when William Peterson fears he's about to be thrown down a cliff (Mulholland Falls) and pleades, you can't do this. This is America. Nolte calmly replies, "This isn't America, Jack. This is L.A." So overall, despite an overreaching script, this film's style, cast and look manage to make it well worth watching for fans of the genre.
½ October 29, 2014
dialogs are good. plot is shit
October 9, 2014
Pretty good film is only hindered by slow pacing. Otherwise the film is pretty good. Approximately the same story as Gangster Squad (2013).
April 10, 2014
Cliched. Boring. Forgettable.
½ April 9, 2014
A very 90's 50's gangster squad movie. pretty crazy cast and semi interesting story but all the pieces dont come together well.
½ February 15, 2014
Great cast who bring their best game to a LA film noir murder mystery and cop flick. Friendship, love of the wrong woman, tough cops, secret government wrongdoings and cover ups, heinous murder, what more could you ask for?
October 12, 2013
I quite liked this movie.
August 17, 2013
Big cast, but does not work. Numerous problems with the story kill this attempt.
March 27, 2013
Excellent cast really all this movie has going for it. Didn't use Jennifer Connelly enough and the movie doesn't really explain who the hell the characters reply are. I found it silly and lazy at most times.
March 9, 2013
I love the director and I love the era. There's so much talent involved that I wouldn't mind giving it a second chance.
March 9, 2013
A flawed, but entertaining detective/noir story. A great cast overcomes a less than original story.
Page 1 of 11