The Black Dahlia (2006)

BRIAN DE PALMA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Germany/USA, 2006, , , , , , , .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2006.  

 plays a homicide cop on the LAPD who, along with partner , becomes involved in solving the murder of a young actress (, who is fantastic even if her scenes feel like they’re from a different movie) when her horrifically mutilated body is discovered behind a brothel. Hartnett’s investigation of the mystery leads him to a sexually adventurous socialite (, compellingly sexy as a Ava Gardner-esque femme fatale) who once knew the murder victim and has a few secrets of her own. Adapted from the novel by James Ellroy, Brian De Palma’s recreation of 1940s Hollywood is dazzling to the senses, but the screenplay lacks the focus and precision that L.A. Confidential had, both films being whittled down versions of Ellroy’s much larger original sources. Confidential‘s screenwriters Helgeland and Hanson pared down the mammoth narrative to elements that only bore directly on the central murder case; here, writer Josh Friedman includes many various threads from Ellroy’s book but doesn’t tie them all together well enough. Still, it might be enough for some to simply see the author’s world of hard-boiled detectives and double-crossing dames come to life on the silver screen.

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