The Black Dahlia

User Score
2.7

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 185 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 185

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User Reviews

  1. ChadShiira
    Oct 2, 2006
    6
    If the performances by Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett actually reflected their pugulist monikers of "Fire" and "Ice" (they're both more like Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap; lukewarm water), "The Black Dahlia" would've not only eluded the k.o., but also the standing eight count as well. It's the performance by Hilary Swank that helps this "Chinatown"-wanna-be off the mat. As If the performances by Aaron Eckhart and Josh Hartnett actually reflected their pugulist monikers of "Fire" and "Ice" (they're both more like Derek Smalls of Spinal Tap; lukewarm water), "The Black Dahlia" would've not only eluded the k.o., but also the standing eight count as well. It's the performance by Hilary Swank that helps this "Chinatown"-wanna-be off the mat. As the one nicknamed "Fire", we're not aware that Eckhart's character is haunted by Elizabeth Short's murder until Kay (Scarlett Johansson), his wife, tells us. Since Johansson is already made up to look like Kim Novak in "Vertigo", how about a Hitchcockian night of restless sleep for Lee, ala Jimmy Stewart. That hypothetical evocation of film referencing blatancy couldn't be worse than the crazy, crazy, crazy "Sunset Boulevard" homage this usually sure-footed filmmaker concocts late in the film. "The Black Dahlia" gets off to a disastrous start because it pussyfoots around. As the love triangle coalesces, some of us are thinking: Cut to the chase and give us the dead body. Expand
  2. redlight
    Jun 5, 2007
    5
    the following is from empire's review of the film, which i agree with: "De Palma is interested not a jot in the feelings of his characters, and thus the denouement which, in a way appropriate for noir, verges on the loopy, is frigid and unsatisfying. It
  3. Bobbi
    Sep 16, 2006
    5
    I like weird twists and turns and I never read the novel, so the the plot twist was good. However, the movie was poorly scripted and the scenes did not make sense or blend well together.
  4. CarlaK.
    Sep 19, 2006
    5
    For me, this didn't inspire any kind of outrage, it was just more of a dull flatness. HIgh on style but not at all convincing. It felt a bit tedious as the thrill and suspense were lost in all the confusion in the plot.
  5. JanWinn
    Sep 21, 2006
    5
    Brian Palma get a grip!
  6. WiliamC.
    Jan 17, 2007
    5
    The Book is great. The movie busy.
  7. BrunoP.
    Oct 16, 2006
    4
    Boring.
  8. GrahamM.
    May 24, 2007
    4
    The only good thing to say about this film is its certain type of atmosphere and that it is not as bad as a striaght to video movie. Worth a rental if one is interested.
  9. 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 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 okayThe 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. Expand
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
  1. The second half feels heavy and unfulfilled, potential greatness reduced to a good movie plagued with problems.
  2. 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.
  3. 40
    The picture is a kind of fattened goose that's been stuffed with goose-liver pâté. It's overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying.