BLACK DAHLIA, THE: DVD
Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and Bucky Bleichert (John Hartnett) are top boxers recruited into mid-40s LAPD as partners and their first case is the gruesome murder of raven haired Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirschner), soon to be known as the black Dahlia. Blanchard's growing obsession with the case threatens his relationship with Kay (Scarlett Johansson) while Bleichert is drawn to the enigmatic heiress, Madeleine Linscott (Hilary Swank), whose Hollywood property developer father, Emmett (John Kavanagh), turns out to have a connection with the murdered Short.
Review by Louise Keller:
A brutally murdered girl, two ex-boxer cops who are buddies and the beautiful blonde who is always in the middle but never between them. Then there is wealthy Scottish tycoon, his unhinged wife and sultry daughter who bears a striking resemblance to the murdered girl. The story is based on a James Ellroy novel which takes one of Hollywood's most baffling, unsolved murders and injects it with a generous dose of fiction. With director Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables, Dressed To Kill) at the helm, The Black Dahlia revels in its stylish noir production, even though it gets lost in the maze of its zigzagging plot lines. The film does look wonderful and intrigues much of the time, despite its overload of confusing characters. It might be high class hit and miss, but it is nonetheless worth seeing.
Aaron Eckhart as the hyper, manic Lee Blanchard, whose boxing nickname Mr Fire best describes his tempestuous character, is without doubt the film's most credible character. He and Josh Hartnett as Bucky Bleichert (Mr Ice) make an unlikely team - it is difficult to understand their relationship. Tall and buffed, Hartnett looks great in every shot, but there is little emotional vulnerability to match that of say, Russell Crowe's Bud White in LA Confidential. Scarlett Johansson oozes charisma and sex as the blonde bombshell with a questionable past, brightening up the screen every time on screen.
With her generous red lips, voluptuous curves and wiles, Johansson's Kay Lake is the epitome of the noir genre's glamorous blonde. The images of Mia Kirschner as the brutally slain murder victim Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia of the title) are seen in grainy black and white, and it seems apt that her look-alike, Hilary Swank's provocative raven-haired Madeleine always wears black, and so stylishly. The only subtle thing about Fiona Shaw's over-the-top performance as the crazy tycoon wife is the scene when a cuckoo clock chimes as her inebriated Ramona makes a dramatic exit.
The basic rule of homicide is that nothing stays buried forever, as ghosts from the past are unceremoniously dug up and any semblance of a fairytale relegated to a veneer. The Black Dahlia digs up plenty in this story of murder, deception, revenge, greed and lust. It may not come close to De Palma's best works, but the mood envelops us.
Published May 3, 2007
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BLACK DAHLIA, THE: DVD (MA)
CAST: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank, Mia Kirshner,Mike Starr, Fiona Shaw, Patrick Fischler, James Otis, John Kavanagh, Troy Evans, Anthony Russell
PRODUCER: Rudy Cohen, Moshe Diamant, Art Linson
DIRECTOR: Brian De Palma
SCRIPT: Josh Friedman (novel by James Ellroy)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Vilmos Zsigmond
EDITOR: Bill Pankow
MUSIC: Mark Isham
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dante Ferretti
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 23, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: May 2, 2007