The Black Dahlia

Rated NR

Director Brian De Palma perfectly captures everything about the film noir genre except whatever it was that made it worth watching. The Black Dahlia is a long, drawn-out character study of a homosexual police officer (Aaron Eckhart), his partner (Josh Hartnett) and the woman they both sort of love (Scarlett Johansson). Hartnett is the central character, and he’s dull as a box of Ralph Nader porn. Johansson is no better; as in Scoop, she can’t seem to stay in character, and the fact that she has friendly sweater puppies hardly makes up for her failures as an actor. Eckhart’s good as he always is, but it doesn’t matter, as his character’s obsession with the Black Dahlia murder becomes background detail in De Palma’s quest to perfectly re-create the most boring aspects of the noir classics. Worst of all is the ending, where 40 loose threads that had been cruelly left to dangle are tied up neat as a Halliburton contract. It’s all done in an unconvincing scene of expository dialogue and flashback that’ll leave you going, “Huh?” Too bad, because on style alone, this could have been a great film. Sadly, style alone doesn’t work as well in filmmaking as it does in getting laid or elected.

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