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Not a misunderstood classic that people aren't "getting" - just bad,
This review is from: The Black Dahlia [DVD] (DVD)
I wanted to like this adaption of James Ellroy's novel, but it was a real disappointment. This story of a 1940s murder case with a mostly top-notch cast (I've never found Josh Hartnett the most compelling of leading actors) looks great on paper, but despite an intriguing set-up, the film just doesn't work. The biggest problem is a lack of cohesion. The action and dialogue are confusing from the opening scenes and the story simply doesn't flow. The "twists" come flying thick and fast towards the latter stages, but one in particular is clearly signposted, and I felt more and more disappointed as each turn appeared. The denouement descends into totally unconvincing, overwrought melodrama. It seems to me that the direction from Brian de Palma is severely lacking, but it also appears that the underlying story features too many contrivances to convince (a disclaimer here that I haven't read the original novel, which perhaps worked better).
Whilst the film looks great and the period setting feels real, sound-wise, the overuse of incidental music, which plays throughout nearly every scene, is both distracting and irritating. Other, smaller things jar, such as the repeated insistence that Hilary Swank's character resembles "The Black Dahlia" murder victim, played by Mia Kirshner; as far as I can tell, these women both have dark hair, and there the likeness ends.
Fiona Shaw is a hugely talented actress but overdoes her performance here to a level that is embarrassing and I find myself pointing the finger at the director again, because Hilary Swank starts chewing the scenery as well and she is also a very gifted performer.
I own this DVD as I received it as a gift; I won't be lending it to any friends as it's not a film I can recommend.