Everyone is a suspect in The Black Dahlia (2006)
Brian De Palmer’s 2006 interpretation of the book The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy and based on the notorious and shocking murder of Elizabeth Short, is a cold crime mystery that brings a nostalgic feeling into modern film making.
The screenplay was written by Josh Friedman and stars Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlet Johansson, Hillary Swank and Mia Kirshner.
Set in 1947, the story revolves around Dwight ‘Bucky’ Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) who are investigating the death of Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner).
Things get complicated as Bucky falls in love with Lee’s girlfriend Katherine ‘Kay’ Lake (Scarlett Johansson) meanwhile Lee becomes obsessed with the case which makes him become aggressive.
The story is loosely based on the murder of Elizabeth Ann Short whose gruesome murder received much publicity and the nickname “The Black Dahlia”. Unfortunately her case remains unsolved.
Watching this film made me feel like I was watching something from the 1940s. The coloring and lighting is bland and mimics the monochrome era of films. It is almost as if the film was made back in 1947 which is probably the feeling De Palmer was trying relate. However, the score and music calls out to a much later, more violent era.
The score and its cues draw uncanny parallels with Martin Scorsese’s 1976 drama Taxi Driver. It is almost as if Mark Isham, who wrote the score for The Black Dahlia, used the film as a musical inspiration.
Fortunately, Friedman’s script is complicated enough that is will probably take your mind off the music.
The story contains several twists like the connection between Lee, Kay and Bobby DeWitt (Richard Brake) and Madeleine Linscott (Swank) to the ‘Dahlia’ but the most surprising treat would be the murder. In this film everyone is a suspect.
If you like murder mysteries then De Palmer’s film is something you could kill the time with.