Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2005. Bergman Lustig Productions. Screenplay by Rian Johnson. Cinematography by Steve Yedlin. Produced by Ram Bergman, Mark G. Mathis. Music by Nathan Johnson. Production Design by Jodie Lynn Tillen. Costume Design by Michele Posch. Film Editing by Rian Johnson. Independent Spirit Awards 2005. Online Film Critics Awards 2006.
An excellent screenplay and some wonderfully strange characters are undermined by shoddy direction in this teen film noir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a high-schooler who investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend, plunging him into the underworld of thugs and femme fatales that leads to a drug-dealing “kingpin” (Lukas Haas) who holds many of the answers. Equal parts Dashiell Hammett, James Ellroy and Mulholland Drive, this film is hampered by a rushed delivery of dialogue that reveals an obviously hectic shooting schedule, and poor editing that gives it a sluggish pace instead of the indulgently mellow one that it obviously deserves. Some really terrific, cult-inspiring elements abound though, my favourite being the bad girl singing a beatnik version of Gilbert & Sullivan.