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‘Black Dahlia’ still an unsolved mystery


September 22, 2006

It’s September again, and for Hollywood that is often an indicator that Oscar season has begun. Normally, that would mean that they’ve started releasing more prestigious films, but in this case that wasn’t so.

“The Black Dahlia,” which is based on the most notorious unsolved murder case in California history, deals with the horrific sight of a mutilated, dead woman literally cut in half.

In come two cops: Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) and Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert (Josh Hartnett). For a reason that is never explained, Lee volunteers himself and his partner for the case.

From there we enter their personal lives, like being introduced to Lee’s girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson), along with his connections with shady characters who we also aren’t given a proper introduction to, nor are any details of their so- called ‘criminal activities’ ever released.

Thankfully, we at least get to learn about the victim before this gruesome act. She happened to be just another star- struck starlet from the middle of nowhere who had big dreams like any other aspiring actress.

The truth is I really had high expectations with this one. The film is based on a fictional book written by the same guy who wrote “L.A. Confidential,” which is, without a doubt, easily one of the best crime dramas ever made.

But here that isn’t so. Yes, in film noir the plot is meant to be intricate and complex, but this one just didn’t make any sense. Even after everything is explained in the ending, you’re still scratching your head.

Like last year’s “Syriana,” this is a tale of endless connections between the characters and events, but at the same time you keep losing track of how everything is connected. Like, who was that guy that fell off the banister? We’ve never seen him before.

Why is Lee so obsessed with this case? Why does Bucky keep sleeping with such a whore whom he knows absolutely nothing about? And why do they nickname the victim the Black Dahlia? You would think that since it is the title they would at least answer that one.

These, along with countless other questions, are never answered. I figure, what’s the point of watching something if you have no clue what’s going on?

In short, I felt it would have been better if it stayed as a book. Then you could always go back to the previous chapter and read it again, looking for some small, important detail that you may have missed.

Regretfully, the only way you can watch it is if it’s on video. At least, that way you can always rewind. I think you’ll need to see this one three or four times to finally get it.

Perhaps the only aspects I found respect for were its cinematography and art direction. We were always put right in the action, capturing everything that was visually important. Plus, the different modes of color in the background indeed helped the feelings illuminate for the audience.

On my way out I even asked two women if they liked it. “It was stupid!” was their answer.

Nick Welsh is a student at UW-River Falls.