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The Black Dahlia

✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Germany, United States, France

2006

Rated R • 2h 1m

Director Brian De Palma

Starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank

Genre Drama, Crime, Thriller

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Lee Blanchard and Bucky Bleichert are former boxers-turned-cops in 1940s Los Angeles and, when an aspiring young actress turns up dead, Blanchard and Bleichert must grapple with corruption, narcissism, stag films and family madness as they pursue the killer.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

40

The New Yorker by David Denby

The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.
63

Premiere by Ethan Alter

You've got to give the guy (De Palma) some credit. He's made a bizarre, baffling and at times flat-out bad movie. But at least it's rarely boring.
70

Village Voice by J. Hoberman

Although the action set pieces are impressive, the exposition is sluggish. For all the posh dollies, high angles, and Venetian-blind crisscross patterns, The Black Dahlia rarely achieves the rhapsodic (let alone the delirious).
40

The New York Times by Manohla Dargis

Mr. De Palma can be a director of dazzling creative lunacy, but there's little craziness in this restrained, awkward film. With the diverting exception of Hilary Swank, who plays a slinky degenerate named Madeleine Linscott, the leads are disastrous.
38

Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips

Doesn't provoke bittersweet inquiries regarding one poor actress' grisly fate. Nor does it stir up much provocation on the matter of why, as a popular audience, we're still taken with this lurid symbol of sex and dread and desire. Rather, the movie raises a much simpler question: Huh?
67

Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman

The film is more than a little in love with the corruption it finds under the floorboards -- and that, of course, is perfectly dandy. I wouldn't trust a film noir that wasn't enthralled by decadence.
60

L.A. Weekly by Scott Foundas

Swank's character and her performance are good enough to merit a movie of their own, instead of serving as fourth wheel to this lifeless ménage à trois.
60

Variety by Todd McCarthy

"Chinatown" it ain't, not in any department. On its own level, however, new pic generates a reasonable degree of intrigue.

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