The Black Dahlia

Fire and Ice

The Black DahliaDwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Leland ‘Lee’ Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart), nicknamed Mr. Ice and Mr. Fire, are the best the LAPD has to offer. While the one is a hothead the other is the thoughtful, introverted kind of guy. When Bucky is promoted and designated to become Lee’s partner, the two become Hollywoodland’s most notorious cop duo. While on a routine stakeout, the two men get involved in a gruesome murder case, when the mutilated body of a young woman is found in the nearby waste ground. It turns out that she was an up and coming actress, famous for her jet black hair and a certain seductive naivety. Lee, whose little sister was killed in a similar fashion several yeas ago, feels very strongly about solving the case no matter what the cost. Consumed by his determination to apprehend the killer, he gets entangled in a web of lies, finally alienating his girl (Scarlett Johansson) as well as his partner.

After a long hiatus, Brian de Palma has finally come out of hiding. With movies such as Scarface and Mission: Impossible on his résumé, it is no surprise that his new movie has been anticipated a lot. De Palma’s films are usually double-edged swords and The Black Dahlia is no exception. This period piece, adapted from a James Ellroy novel, highlights the (not so) golden era of Hollywood through the real-life murder of Elizabeth Short. While the main storyline is able to keep your attention (it’s a murder mystery after all), De Palma too often drifts off into scenes that do not really advance the plot, making especially the first half a little bit tedious. The emphasis on the love triangle between Bucky, Lee and Kay would have been interesting and probably even necessary but the overall emotional coldness reduces these and a bunch of other scenes to merely beautiful pictures. But it is exactly in the latter that the movie excels. Soaked in a gorgeous golden dust, The Black Dahlia looks amazing. You can almost feel the joy that De Palma apparently has with all the technical wizardry that 21st century movie making has to offer. Incredible crane shots and a stunning staircase shootout are probably the most remarkable things in the picture. Now whether this is what you want to get out of a movie is a whole different question.

The Black Dahlia is rated R for some grisly, film noir violence and smoking throughout.

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