The Black Dahlia

Direted by: Brian De Palma

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johanssen, Aaron Eckhart

Rated: R

A film of murder, obsession, love and deception, Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia is a throwback to the trench coat-sporting detective stories of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Based on the notorious, unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947, Dahlia follows the story of Officer Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert, played by the ever-shirtless Josh Hartnett, as he tries to unravel the mystery of Short's gruesome Hollywood demise.

Hartnett is supported by an impressive cast of leading ladies, from the muscular Hilary Swank to the busty Scarlett Johansson. Despite the stunning cast, the film's true beauty lies in the cinematography. Director De Palma (The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible) masterfully mixes the essence of vintage Dick Tracy stories with art house camerawork and dramatic action sequences. But beneath this hard-boiled mystery is a innately human film that is much more about the impact of the murder case on the characters then the case itself.

Dahlia never quite fulfills its great potential, however. The voyeuristic clips sprinkled throughout the film seem abrasive and uncomforting, teasing the audience through a drawn-out second act. Nevertheless, this must-see film infuses energy into the classic detective story for a new generation of filmgoers.


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