The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia Image
Metascore
49

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

User Score
2.7

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 184 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 77
  2. Negative: 58 out of 77
  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! Expand
  2. BillyS.
    Sep 15, 2006
    7
    One thing is certain from the very beginning of The Black Dahlia- you're watching a Brian DePalma film. It's all here, the long One thing is certain from the very beginning of The Black Dahlia- you're watching a Brian DePalma film. It's all here, the long sweeping tracking shots, the artsy angles, the buiding cresendo of the score, and a very intriguing story that slowly is revealed after about 25 unnessasary tangents and detours. The acting is pretty much standard considering everybody seems to have split personalities and who you see isn't really who you see. There is just to much to take in and the film goes all over the place getting there, but getting there with Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography and Dante Ferretti's production design make all those little sidetracks all the more enjoyable and worth the price of a ticket. Expand
  3. BrunoP.
    Oct 16, 2006
    4
    Boring.
  4. IanB.
    Sep 15, 2006
    2
    Exceptional set design and lighting are lost in a generic film noir whose almost incidental ties to the Elizabeth Short story serve mainly as Exceptional set design and lighting are lost in a generic film noir whose almost incidental ties to the Elizabeth Short story serve mainly as props for scenes of sex and violence. The writing reeks ('nuff said). Mia Kirshner and Scarlett Johansson glimmer in their roles, Josh Hartnett, well, tries his cardboard best, but Hilary Swank, John Kavanagh and Fiona Shaw vie for the real acting raspberries as a (way) dysfunctional family with the worst accents since Inspector Clouseau. If you really like boxing or feel deep in your heart that Elizabeth Short deserved every blow and cut she got, you may like this film, but if you prefer real film noir, see 'Hollywoodland'. Expand
  5. ElisaP.
    Oct 4, 2006
    1
    [***SPOILERS***] I was relieved to find out that I wasn't and imbecile when my question â?
  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. VS.D.
    Feb 11, 2007
    0
    So awful I couldn't even make it thru it. I'm a fan of the book and when I heard David Fincher was directing, I was delighted. Then So awful I couldn't even make it thru it. I'm a fan of the book and when I heard David Fincher was directing, I was delighted. Then I heard he dropped out and De Palma was taking over. Then I wept. De Palma is such a dreadful director--no subtlety, no understanding of telling the story with the cut, no understanding of plot and story. I couldn't think of a worse director for this material (though Joel Schumacher would be a close second). Dreadful, dreadful stuff. Expand

See all 77 User Reviews

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