She looks like that dead girl! How sick are you?

There are many things which, popular wisdom dictates, you should never do. Drive whilst intoxicated, for instance. Punch a bear in the face. Call Mike Tyson a big, lisping twat. Add to this esteemed list, “watch Brian de Palma’s The Black Dahlia” because, friends, it’s balls. Not THE balls, which would be good, but just plain balls.

The 1940s noir look is slick, the costumes are dead on, everyone smokes, and the cinematography is pretty. Beyond that, there was nothing to enjoy about the most lumpen, painful and generally boring two hours since England drew 0-0 with Macedonia. I’m sure James Ellroy’s novel is great, but the adaptation did not film well at all. It was confusing, dragged repeatedly, and the final act is just overtly melodramatic in a way that’s unintentionally hilarious.

None of the performances were great, and this from great actors! Aaron Eckhart undoes his cred-forming turn in Thank You For Smoking, Scarlett Johansson phones it in over a dodgy phone line. Hilary Swank (Oscar winner!) is okay as a lesbian femme fatale with a family that’s spectacularly crazy. And Josh Hartnett sort of drifts by.

The film is ostensibly about a Hollywood actress that got killed, but that seems to be a background detail. The problem is, the foreground’s details are all over the place.


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