Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Black Dahlia

Wallowing in its grisly subject matter, THE BLACK DAHLIA movie takes a look at the brutal murder of Elizabeth Short, a wannabe Hollywood starlet back in the 1950s and the two police detectives who investigate her death. Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett play the cops who become partners and friends after boxing each other under the names of Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice -- in order to help pass a city bond that would result in pay raises for policemen. Mia Kirshner is the haunting, doomed actress. Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank are the ladies who entice our heroes during the course of their investigation.

Directed by Brian De Palma from a Josh Friedman adaptation of the James Ellroy novel, THE BLACK DAHLIA is a descent into an even darker world than the one explored in HOLLYWOODLAND, but I found it a bit more intriguing to watch, primarily because of hottie Josh Hartnett, who is extremely photogenic. And, as the narrator, Hartnett brings his deep, sexy tones to that job, which also enhances the film. However, Eckhart, whose role is more mysterious and complicated, chews the scenery for the first time here, so he’s not as believable as usual. Johansson, as the woman Eckhart is dedicated to protecting from a soon-to-be-released criminal, looks like she’s playing Lana Turner dress-up; and Hilary Swank, as the daughter of a rich construction magnate – and Elizabeth Short look-alike -- makes an unconvincing femme fatale.

THE BLACK DAHLIA ends up being a rather clumsy fictionalized version of the Elizabeth Short murder case. This is definitely no CHINATOWN or L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.


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