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    The Black Dahlia

    When I left the theater I felt lied to. The Black Dahlia was not a murder mystery. This movie was simply worthless. None of the elements came together to create a decent film, despite De Palma as the director and despite the cast chosen. Those who deserve some good credit for the very few good moments are the art director and cinematographer. The one most responsible for its heavy faults is the screenwriter.

    There are two ways to critique the cast: One- They tried too hard portraying their characters. Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson as Bucky and Kay came off insincere, inexperienced, uncomfortable, and immature. Aaron Eckhart as Lee was borderline cartoonist in over expressing himself. Though known for ability to play gender -bending roles, Madeleine was too strange even for Hilary Swank. 2- Knowing what the actors have accomplished in the past, the fault lies in the script. These characters were not well created and thus impossible to bring to life. It wasn’t just who they were but what they said. Aside from the era’s vernacular, what they convey about themselves through the subtext (and in Bucky’s voiceover narrations) are low class children pretending to be adults.

    The structure of the plot is poor from the beginning. Within the first five minutes is a long flashback to explain why Lee and Bucky are going to box each other. Instead of beginning with the discovery of the Black Dahlia’s mutilated body, there is a half hour introduction to Lee, Lee’s girlfriend Kay, and Bucky’s triangular relationship. By the middle of the film it is beyond obvious this triangle (and then Bucky’s relationship with Madeleine) is more important than the Black Dahlia murder.

    I have not read the book that this movie is based upon so I can’t critique it as an adaptation but it could have been better. In reality, there have been many hypotheses as to who killed the Black Dahlia but it remains an unsolved crime. The ending was supposed to reflect one of these but a hyperactive and depressed woman rushed through the explanation. The Black Dahlia is more of a commercial vehicle than modern noir. It will just be one more credit for Scarlett Johanson’s resume, proof that Josh Harnett will be forever young, another B movie for Aaron Eckhart, and further pigeon- holing Hilary Swank’s roles.

    There was so much wrong with this movie it may be the reason why so much money was spent advertising it. How The Black Dahlia was good enough for the Venice Film Festival baffles me.

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