Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
There ain't no falls in L.A.
on 25 August 2013
Mulholland Falls is directed by Lee Tamahori and written by Pete Dexter. It stars Nick Nolte, Chazz Palminteri, Melanie Griffith, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Jennifer Connelly, Treat Williams, John Malkovich, Bruce Dern and Andrew McCarthy. Music is by Dave Grusin and cinematography by Haskell Wexler.
1950s Los Angeles and four unorthodox detectives led by Maxwell Hoover (Nolte) are called in to investigate the death of a young woman found crushed at a construction site. The woman is revealed to be an aspiring actress who had recently had a relationship with the married Hoover. Can is open, and worms everywhere, and following those worms leads Hoover down murky avenues...
It's the almost nearly great neo-noir movie, everything looks right in principal, it has a strongly assembled cast, the 50s visuals and cinematography are splendid, and the murder mystery element of the plot - with some added sex, sizzle and nuclear shenanigans - looks promising on the page. Yet it never delivers on that promise of being something dark, to be a labyrinthine noir thriller beating a black heart.
It starts off so well, based on the infamous "Hat Squad" we reasonably expect the story to expand upon the opening macho machinations of the four tough hombres in the hats, but instead away from Nolte's grizzled Hoover, the other three guys are merely dressed up props. Which means there's some good actors wasted, sadly.
As the plot moves slowly forward the investigation and Hoover character axis becomes less interesting. Griffith came in for some critical grief for a lacklustre performance, but she's done no favours by the writers who fail to give her marriage to Hoover any substance. So when things go pear shaped and the characters of Mr and Mrs Hoover should explode on the screen, we really don't care having had no interest previously to hang our emotional being on.
It all builds to what can best be described as a poor pay off, the resolution to the hinted at muddy mystery is hardly shocking, and the "big" face-off sequence between good and bad guys (or bad and bad if you prefer) is about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's not an awful movie, but it is a very disappointing one. A film where a bit more thought given by the producers could have yielded so much more. 5/10