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[3.5]--"She was always in the middle, but never between us....,",
on June 29, 2007
Elizabeth Short's death was the sensational centerpiece that attracted viewer's attention but wow, it amazes me what people are saying about this film. I didn't know how to begin with this review and before writing this I read lots who have been misled by the title assuming that the Black Dahlia murder itself was to be the main focus, probably any true McEllroy and De Palma fans will tell you its not and was not ever the case. After viewing this I thought it wasn't bad and it caught my attention rather well. The plot of course centers on LAPD Officers Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichart( Josh Harnett) and Leland 'Lee' Blanchard( Aaron Eckhart) aka Mr.Ice and Mr.Fire respectively due to their boxing skills and the tale is told by Bucky ( in voice-overs) The film's backdrop is the horrific and now infamous murder rising star Elizabeth'Beth'Shortt ( Mia Kershner) aka 'The Black Dahlia'. Our two protagonists are called in to investigate the crime which was so horrible that all the details were kept from the public. While Lee and Bucky go all out to solve the heinous crime each is also dealing with his personal issues. Lee's growing obsession with the case threatens his relationship with his girlfriend Kay (Scarlett Johanssen). Added to the strain is the eminent release of Bobby De Witt whom Lee had previously put behind bars for numerous crimes including some close to home. Bucky meanwhile finds himself entwined in a love-affair with wealthy if rebellious Madeline Linscott (Hilary Swank) who bears an uncanny resemblance to Beth Shortt.
In this day and age, classic film-noir style walks the very fine line of parody and sincerity. And "Dahlia" went back and forth. The entire cast, really, handled the somewhat archaic style of acting without making it seem too goofy. I have to give special mention to Fiona Shaw who gave an over the top performance as Ramona Linscott. Every moment she was on screen you couldn't help but to listen to her because some of the things she would say or how she says it was amazing. Aaron Eckhart's pitiful obsessed yet tragic portrayal of Blanchard whose dedication to the case proves his undoing. Josh Harnett is on top form as the narrator Bucky and portrays Bucky's struggles and angst perfectly. One of his best traits is being able to read his facial features. Through Hartnett's expressions, one can almost read his mind to foreshadow events before he does. Scarlett Johanssen is currently the sweetheart of Hollywood and it's easy to see why. She plays the old beauty 40s sirens pretty well but at times I would hear her switch on and off her accent to the point I was hoping that it remain consistent. Her role is both headstrong and lost through out the film. Hilary Swank done her role fairly well and at times looks awkward in certain scenes. Mia Kershner as the doomed `Dahlia' played her role nicely and convincing enough in this story.
Shadows- is part of De Palma's main focus of this film and you'll see why. Along with side plots and twists also keep a viewer on their toes. Base on the interview that I have seen on this disc, De Palma did stated that he kept faithful to McEllroy's excellent novel while also giving the story an energy and intense emotional drive that can only be given on screen. This film might be a big disappointment to a lot of viewers but remember that the 'Dahlia 'herself is not the main focus of the film, since it says on Ellroy's book it was not focused solely on her. Rather she is the catalyst for the all the events following the murder. Just keep an open mind and rather than being put off by the focus of the story think it through logically and you won't have a problem understanding anything. I recommend this to De Palma's entire fan base and to those who are curios of this man work.