The Black Dahlia

Rated 2.0

Two Los Angeles cops in the 1940s (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) become grimly obsessed with a grisly mutilation murder. James Ellroy’s 1987 novel fictionalized the real-life killing of Elizabeth Short, offering an imaginary solution steeped in decadence, corruption and the seamy side of Hollywood. The movie, adapted by Josh Friedman and directed by Brian De Palma, gets off to a stylish neo-noir start, but the convoluted story never really takes hold, and eventually it all dissolves into low camp and unintentional self-parody. Hartnett maintains his dignity through the worst of it, but the best performance comes from Hilary Swank as a bisexual look-alike for the murdered Short (Mia Kirshner, seen in film tests and flashbacks). Also starring is Scarlett Johansson, game but miscast as a jaded former prostitute.