RARA-AVIS: Ellroy's Black Dahlia, and De Palma's

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 16 Sep 2006

James Ellroy was not well served in the new film based on _ The Black Dahlia._ Johannson (Kay Lake) looked like a confused guppie with slathered-on lipstick. Eckhart (Lee Blanchard) did not have the time to show the mixture of military respect for his partner and (in the novel) non-sexual love of his wife (he needed an idol not a person to love). A key moment was when Johannson told Hartnett (Bucky Bleichert) he was fetishizing the BD -- she was thinking of what her husband had done. This should have resonated with the audience but did not. The character of Ellis Lowe was a good vignette, and so was the incestuous daughter, but the dark nuttiness of Swank, an epitome of the all-American moral and emotional confusion (Bushworld has deep roots) of the three leads, did not resonate either as it did in the novel. It should have helped, but did not, that Swank was the opposite of the innocent and vulnerable Betty Short. My major impression was that the writing as well as the acting was subpar. But then, I do not know how much Ellroy was involved, if at all, in the screenplay.

One of the pleasures of reading Ellroy is the leisure one has to savor the perverseness or vitality of the characters and place them in their setting. Somehow, despite the running time, the movie seemed rushed. And fuzzy.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 Sep 2006 EDT