The Black Dahlia is a neo-Noir film Directed by Brian De Palma and based on the book of the same name by James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential). The film was a critical and commercial failure on its release in 2005 and I first saw it on DVD in about 2007 but on a really small TV in my girlfriend’s university flat. We both fell asleep so didn’t remember much about it. There were two reasons why I wanted to see the movie again. The first was that it was featured in a fantastic Sight & Sound article about post 2000 Noir and the second was Scarlett Johansson. Any excuse to watch one of her films. Having seen it properly now I’ve come to the conclusion that I probably didn’t need to see it again and there’s a reason I didn’t remember much of it. The Black Dahlia is overly confusing and the time I spent trying to piece things together took me away from the plot and the excellent period world that the film created.
Placed shortly after the Second World War in Los Angeles the movie is set around a real life murder case but everything else is fictional. Former boxers turned cops Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) take part in a fixed fight which earns everyone in the Department an 8% pay rise. They soon end up as partners and following the grizzly murder of a young wannabe starlet (Mia Kershner) Blanchard begins to obsess about catching the killer, leaving the rest of their work and his girl (Scarlett Johansson) on the outside looking in.