Black Dahlia

Movie Review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank
Director: Brian De Palma

LA CONFIDENTIAL won critical acclaim and Oscars and resurrected or cemented the careers of many of those involved from director Curtis Hanson to Russell Crowe and Kim Basinger.

No doubt Brian De Palma and the cast hoped that this prequel from the same writer – James Ellroy – would do the same but not only did it disappear quickly from screens, it was hardly an award troubler.

Based around the real life case of a dead actress in forties Hollywood, the Black Dahlia tells a similar story of violence and police corruption, glamorous starlets and gangsters.

That it comes across as a pale imitation may be down to a number of factors. Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhardt and Scarlett Johansson lack the depth of Crowe, Spacey, Pearce And Basinger.

De Palma relies too heavily on his screen trickery and artifice to allow you to really engage and too long is spent establishing Eckhardt and Hartnett’s cops – and their love triangle with Johansson. The murder seems almost like an afterthought.

It is this part of the film that is the strongest and Mia Kirshner adds desperation and depth to the murdered actress. Hilary Swank too, manages to outclass her co-stars in quite a small role.

This had the potential to be a great film in the right hands, but despite some great moments remains frustratingly unengaging.

3 out of 6 stars

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