Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The Black Dahlia
Well, this was certainly disappointing.

I guess my first clue should have been that it's based on a crime novel by James Ellroy, rather than being based on actual events. I was expecting The Black Dahlia to be about... well, the Black Dahlia. Instead, it was some crap about these two police detectives and their love triangle with a dodgy lady, and one of them was a dirty cop and that caused problems for everyone.

And meanwhile in the background, oh by the way here's a dead girl sawed in half.

Which is the more interesting plot angle? You'd think they'd make it the focus of the film, right? But no, we get the cheesy neo-noir antics of the two detectives. Maybe the last 20% of the film is dedicated to the Black Dahlia case, but they completely fictionalize it and turn it into some melodramatic spectacle.

I have a problem with this, like, ethically. I mean... okay. This is an actual real unsolved murder. A particularly horrific unsolved murder. This was someone's daughter. She died violently and was dismembered and disfigured. It seems very inappropriate to me to take her life and turn it into a crappy soap opera. The film's final explanation of the crime was ridiculous. It was laughable.

It's one thing to have something like, say, From Hell, which was heavily researched and based on real police theories. The Jack the Ripper murders are still unsolved, but there are plenty of solid, respectable theories out there about who this guy might have been. But to take an unsolved murder and completely fabricate some lurid motive... I dunno. It just seems cheap to me, and wrong.

And it's not as if this isn't a lurid enough case. It's widely held that the Black Dahlia was a hermaphrodite (or at the very least had some kind of small vestigal penis or something) and this was omitted from the film. How do you make a film about the Black Dahlia and leave out the hermaphrodite thing? Many people believe this is why she was killed. Take the facts and run with them, don't make up some bullshit about some jealous rich lady who looked uncannily like Baby Jane. The truth is more interesting!

But as I said, this film was only peripherally about the Black Dahlia. The murder was just sort of a weak framing narrative. Overall it was just a boring cop movie that wanted to be Hitchcockian and was just... well... DePalma.

The acting sucked as well. Even actors who are normally great, like Scarlett Johanssen, were just big blocks of wood. The whole thing felt forced and stiff, like they all realized it was a crap film and were just going through the motions. Hillary Swank and her ginormous horse teeth get quite a bit of screen time. Why does she have two Oscars? Okay, so she has one Oscar for looking convincingly like a boy. But why does she have the other one? I know it isn't down to her acting ability...

But now I'm just being mean to Hillary Swank, and even though it feels really good I'm getting off topic.

Would I recommend this? No. I sat through it, but mostly because I had nail polish to keep me busy. It's probably not worth your time.