September 28, 2006
This complex, stylish whodunnit is based on a 1980s James Ellroy novel (which is in turn a fictionalised solution of an unsolved 1940s murder case). Unlike the over-the-top, comic-book noir we've been treated to recently by films such as Sin City (ok, admittedly that was based on a comic), this film feels like a 40s original. It oozes sexiness amid the freakish mores of Hollywood life (high and low), mixing in a smattering of Se7en-like gore for good measure. Likeable perhaps because of its density and lack of neatness (the motivations behind the murder being as random and surprising as those you might find accompanying any hideous murder case), it's a great showcase for Hartnett & Johanssen to get their teeth into some juicier roles than their standard fare. Swank is as convincing as a gorgeous, perverted rich girl as she was as a hicksville lesbian masquerading as a boy in Boys Don't Cry; is there any limit to this woman's talents? There's even a cameo by an off-puttingly aged-looking k d lang. All-in-all, this was a surprisingly enjoyable film which could bear repeat viewing, which is more than can be said for most of the tripe spewing out of Hollywood lately.