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The Black Dahlia

By Cole Haddon | Posted 9/20/2006

The Black Dahlia is supposed to be a film noir murder mystery but, by the movie’s dramatic climax--when all the clues are added up and suddenly everything makes sense--director Brian De Palma forgets that the clues are supposed to add up and make sense. In fact, nothing makes sense in this dismal attempt to imagine what film noir directed by Alfred Hitchcock would have been like. According to De Palma: Visually stunning, but boring, overlong, incomprehensible at times, and, if that wasn’t enough, not really a mystery. Detectives Bucky Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Leland Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) are desperate to figure out who mutilated and killed a young, aspiring starlet named Betty Short (Mia Kirshner), but, in the end, the truth has to be explained after some pretty damn preposterous detective work. Even then, it’s all too confusing to buy. Considering that this was an attempt to adapt James Ellroy’s novel of the same name, you have to imagine there were hopes to re-create the success of L.A. Confidential, but hopes are often squandered. The only person who comes away from this cinematic waste smelling like roses is Hilary Swank, who proves yet again that she is one of the best actors working today.

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