The Black Dahlia

Metascore
49

Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 35
  2. Negative: 5 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    60
    "Chinatown" it ain't, not in any department. On its own level, however, new pic generates a reasonable degree of intrigue.
  2. 60
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Adam Smith
    60
    Gorgeously realised, gripping and doused in De Palma’s familiar technical wizardry, this is only let down by the director’s equally familiar uninterest in the humanity of his characters.
  4. 58
    The Black Dahlia has sparks of brilliance, swaths of dark intensity, unpredictable crackles of wit, some solid acting. But it's chiefly flat and ambling and dull, insufficient in musculature and overripe with melodrama.
  5. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    50
    The production certainly looks sumptuous, and certifies Mr. Hartnett as a mainstream movie star. But the script is frequently impenetrable, the pacing is ponderous, and the film noir style can't conceal a crucial piece of misconceived casting.
  6. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    50
    The Black Dahlia captivates with its dark style. But as with the particulars of the yet-unsolved case, the movie is frustratingly convoluted. What it accomplishes with its stunning cinematography and set design is undercut by a lack of coherence.
  7. The Black Dahlia, looks so terrific and is filled with so many imaginatively showy sequences and masterful directorial touches that you almost don't notice that, in every other way, it's just not a very good movie.
  8. A few scenes are worth the price of admission for their inspired camp alone; Shaw happens to be in two of them.
  9. 50
    Beautifully crafted, intricately plotted and obviously a labor of love. It is also a mess.
  10. 50
    Director Brian De Palma will probably take the rap for this tepid noir, but the real culprits are Josh Hartnett and Scarlett Johansson, red-hot lovers in life but (as ever) gorgeous stiffs on-screen.
  11. The world of The Black Dahlia is beyond bleak, beyond film noir.
  12. 50
    The first thing you notice about this so-so adaptation of James Ellroy's novel is the shoddy acting.
  13. In writer Josh Friedman and director Brian de Palma's attempts to condense the book's convulsively odd final chapters, they've created an even loonier melodrama.
  14. 50
    The plot has been greatly streamlined from Ellroy's book, but even so, it isn't any clearer, and the ending, convoluted and barely believable, hits with a thud.
  15. Film noir is a style, but self-conscious film noir is just a stylistic tic, less a genre than an ailment. And The Black Dahlia has got a really bad case -- this thing is so mannered it convulses.
  16. 50
    The sloppiness of the ending doesn't only damage The Black Dahlia, it sinks the project.
  17. 50
    Looks and flows great, dripping with the 1940s crime-thriller atmosphere that James Ellroy described in his 1987 novel. On other levels -- plot (overstuffed), suspense (muted), acting (Hilary Swank as a femme fatale? Please!), posing (Scarlett Johansson plays dress-up as a mini Lana Turner), sex (it's all before and after) -- the movie is a bust.
  18. 40
    The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.
  19. It's a stilted thing--overstylized and inexpressive, like high-school kids playing dress-up, or bad Kabuki.
  20. 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.
  21. Here's the lowdown, the q.t., the true gen: The Black Dahlia is a big nowhere.
User Score
2.7

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 184 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 77
  2. Negative: 58 out of 77
  1. Jun 1, 2016
    8
    The story is a bit too romanced for my taste but the history of the black dahlia is an intriguing one and this movie tries too hard to fill inThe story is a bit too romanced for my taste but the history of the black dahlia is an intriguing one and this movie tries too hard to fill in the blanks.

    Watch it online for free: https://www.primewire.ag/watch-1828-The-Black-Dahlia
    Full Review »
  2. May 27, 2016
    4
    The Black Dahlia is a decidedly mediocre film. Featuring impeccable cinematography and a lush and sexy style, The Black Dahlia is everythingThe Black Dahlia is a decidedly mediocre film. Featuring impeccable cinematography and a lush and sexy style, The Black Dahlia is everything you can want from a neo-noir film set in 1940's Los Angeles from a visual standpoint. Beyond that, however, The Black Dahlia falls apart. Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, and Hilary Swank, all turn in mediocre performances. Aaron Eckhart is okay though. The story makes no sense and is poorly told. The end reveal of what happened throughout is scattershot at best and demonstrates just how little sense the preceding hour and a half made. Honestly, this film makes literally no sense from a plot standpoint and it seems as if Brian De Palma just took pieces of the novel, threw them at the screen, and hoped they would work. If the film was longer, maybe it would make sense. However, it is simply too overstuffed for the two hour runtime. Also featuring De Palma's trademark penchant for violence and sexism, the film is not good enough to justify the violence or the horrendous treatment of women in the film. While I would stop short of calling it an overall bad film due to the great visuals, the plot is meandering, nonsensical, and incoherent. Full Review »
  3. Apr 24, 2011
    8
    As Of Now (4/24/11) I Have No Clue Why The User Score Is So Low.. This Is A Good Movie Overall. Yes I Can Say Some Spots Arent The Best.. ButAs Of Now (4/24/11) I Have No Clue Why The User Score Is So Low.. This Is A Good Movie Overall. Yes I Can Say Some Spots Arent The Best.. But It Is A A+ Effort... Rose McGowan Does A Great Job.. The Acting Was OK... I Loved The Writing/Plot.. Overall 8! Full Review »