Director Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces
and The King of Marvin Gardens
) imbues this low-key crime story, based on Dashiell Hammett’s short story The House on Turk Street
, with an almost nostalgic, pre-MTV feeling of intimacy and exploration. The storyline is basic noir and risks losing its audience right up front by relying on coincidence to establish conflict as a bank-robbery conspiracy swings into motion. But Rafelson nimbly grips and kneads a string of rather familiar characters and volatile unholy alliances into an infectious tale of greed, loneliness, and sexual compulsion and manipulation. The excellent cast includes Samuel L. Jackson as a cello-playing grand-theft-auto detective, Milla Jovovich as a piano-playing moll and Stellan Skarsgard as a ruthless criminal mastermind.