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Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

User Score
2.8

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 166 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: The Black Dahlia weaves a fictionalized tale of obsession, love, corruption, greed and depravity around the brutal murder of a fledgling Hollywood starlet that shocked and fascinated the nation in 1947 and remains unsolved today. (Universal Pictures)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 35
  2. Negative: 5 out of 35
  1. 91
    Hartnett and co-star Scarlett Johansson--that most fatale of current filmic femmes--are naturals for this kind of noir-hued material, but the pairing of Ellroy and De Palma proves a marriage made in hardboiled heaven.
  2. 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.
  3. 63
    If this overcooked version of James Ellroy’s novel - inspired by a famous 1947 Los Angeles murder - is less than fully satisfying or even believable storytelling and acting, it’s still possible to get a kick out of this fever dream loaded with eye candy.
  4. 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.
  5. 50
    Beautifully crafted, intricately plotted and obviously a labor of love. It is also a mess.
  6. 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.
  7. 30
    Forty-five minutes in, I was already glancing at my watch and wondering why the only lively actress in this film was playing the dead girl. Go figure.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 75
  2. Negative: 58 out of 75
  1. ES
    Oct 15, 2006
    10
    A brave bit of storytelling, brazenly un-PC, my favorite of the recent rash of pulp movies. Also lovely to see real cinematic ability on A brave bit of storytelling, brazenly un-PC, my favorite of the recent rash of pulp movies. Also lovely to see real cinematic ability on display here -- even Scorsese's latest movie is obviously a product of the MTV generation, while this movie could have been made during the Golden Age of cinema. Standouts are Aaron Eckhart, whose '40s throwback performance layered with '90s indie naturalism stole the show, and William Finley's small but very important role was a pleasant surprise. It was a real pleasure to see the Phantom of the Paradise himself onscreen again. I'll agree with most that Hartnett and Johansson very nearly ruined this film's chances, but the movie is too solid overall to be discounted. See it in a theater for the full effect! Collapse
  2. 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 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
  3. MartinL.
    Jan 25, 2007
    3
    I agree...awful movie--but I gave it a "3" because I only saw the first hour, I couldn't take anymore...boring, stupid plot, confusing, I agree...awful movie--but I gave it a "3" because I only saw the first hour, I couldn't take anymore...boring, stupid plot, confusing, just very disappointing Expand
  4. SSshanks
    Sep 15, 2006
    2
    Ugh. A bunch of disjointed scenes that never really add up to anything. Nice looking though.
  5. MarciaL.
    Sep 26, 2006
    1
    This is one of the most disgusting movies I have ever seen. It is hard to explain how it could be shocking, boring and worthless, all at the This is one of the most disgusting movies I have ever seen. It is hard to explain how it could be shocking, boring and worthless, all at the same time. First of all, the film's title is simply an exploitation of a young woman's brutal murder. The film makes no attempt at all to provide a true solution to the crime. It is total fiction, attempting to making money at the expense of a poor dead girl's memory. Second, the pornographic lesbian scenes were ugly - especially the use of the "toy" - and horrifying rather than titillating. Third - will Scarlett Johannsen ever find work again? She seemed to be struggling to portray a retarded sex kitten who had some type of neurological disorder that made her jerk awkwardly when she walked, and made her jaw hang open most of the time. Don't go see it. Don't even rent it. But if you do, remember that I warned you !!! Expand
  6. Sonicdude
    Sep 14, 2006
    0
    This film begins a new fall proving that movies have only become wore over time. It shows us nothing to be proud of. Bad acting, bad This film begins a new fall proving that movies have only become wore over time. It shows us nothing to be proud of. Bad acting, bad direction, and particularly bad writing lead the way in this trash bomb film. All you can think about is how bad the movie is and your movie going experience is ruined. Expand
  7. Lola
    Jan 11, 2007
    0
    This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen! It could have been really good, but the storyline was just completely off, disjointed, and This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen! It could have been really good, but the storyline was just completely off, disjointed, and hard to really follow. The movie wasn't even really about that girl's death at all, it was about the two cops. What a waste of time. Expand

See all 75 User Reviews

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