Secrets abound in Confidential
By Brad Lister
It always rains in Los Angeles or so it would seem that way if you believe what you see in the movies. Of course the L.A. in movies is also an incredibly corrupt and derelict sort of place. It's also the place where great film noir comes from.
Curtis Hanson's new film L.A. Confidential is a great film noir. The adaptation of James Ellroy's novel explodes on the screen today with a cast that comes together with an incredible intensity.
The film centres on a mass murder at the Nite Owl diner and all the secrets that seem to tumble out from it. These include (in no particular order) prostitution, police corruption and mass greed. L.A. Confidential, one must admit, in some cases defies conventional plot explanations. That is the mark of great film noir, as one minute it is one thing and the next, another.
Leading the cast are veterans James Cromwell (Babe), Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) and Kim Basigner (The Marrying Man, The Real McCoy) . Rounding out the cast are newcomers Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe as the clashing detectives who are nevertheless working towards a common goal.
The screenplay by Brian Hegeland and Curtis Hanson is intelligently written and well-executed by the more-than-capable cast. Noted in particular is Cromwell who carries a role that is far removed from the "farmer" of Babe fame. Also excellent is Kim Basinger, who has never been a great actress, as she suddenly comes into her own as a high-class hooker.
L.A. Confidential only breaks down when the story ventures into what one could call the dénouement in classic storytelling sense. Film noir works well if first, it is well written and second, the story is not tied up into a nice little package. The Usual Suspects was a masterpiece of filmmaking because the audience was left to decide, confer and draw its own conclusions.L.A. Confidential decides to veer from that, however, and provide the audience with a nice tidy wrap-up that seems to almost derail the movie in order to provide the pat, well-understood ending.
Not to worry though, the movie has style to burn with its breathtaking cinematography which is picture-postcard exciting. Hanson crafts the movie very well and the audience is transported back to the Los Angeles that Ellroy described in his novels.
L.A. Confidential is a movie that is emotionally powerful. One leaves the movie theatre speechless, dazed and disoriented totally unaware of where (and maybe who) you are. Hanson has crafted a fantastic film that is both intelligent, well-acted and a total respite from the mindless fare that filled the cineplexes this summer.