Review No. 463
The real crime is that it was robbed of all but two Oscars.
Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Screenplay by: Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland
Based on: “L.A. Confidential” by James Ellroy
Narrated by: Danny DeVito
Det. Sgt. Jack Vincennes: Kevin Spacey
Officer Wendell “Bud” White: Russell Crowe
Det. Lt. Edmund “Ed” Exley: Guy Pearce
Lynn Bracken: Kim Basinger
Sid Hudgens: Danny DeVito
Capt. Dudley Smith: James Cromwell
Pierce Morehouse Patchett: David Strathairn
Also Starring: Amber Smith, Darrell Sandeen, Graham Beckel, Gwenda Deacon, John Mahon, Marisol Padilla Sánchez, Matt McCoy, Paolo Seganti, Paul Guilfoyle, Ron Rifkin, Shawnee Free Jones, Simon Baker
Distributed by Warner Bros. on September 19, 1997. Produced in English by the United States. Runs 138 mins. Rated R by the MPAA–graphic violence, profanity, sexual situations.
L.A. Confidential was watched on April 7, 2013.
“Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.” –Sid Hudgeons (Danny DeVito)
BY “THE CINEMANIAC”
LOS ANGELES ― Sometime in 1953, we find three officers for the Los Angeles Police Department investigating a homicide at the Nite Owl café.
Detective Lieutenant Edmund “Ed” Exley (Guy Pearce) is no one we would imagine to be a police officer, but he is determined solely to live up to the reputation of his honorable father, a former cop. Officer Wendell “Bud” White (Russell Crowe) is an obsessive feminist, but when his volatile mind takes control, havoc tends to unleash itself. Detective Sergeant Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is a relaxed, calm narcotics detective who works on the field as the technical adviser for a televised police procedural, known as Badge of Honor.
And when their naïveté takes over their honor, Exley, White, and Vincennes find themselves caught up in punishable scandals of their own–be it realized to their own eyes (i.e. prostitution) or unrealized (i.e. tabloid journalism).
In 1990, crime fiction writer James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia) churned this story out into a novel which he titled L.A. Confidential. The title refers to the 1950s scandal/exposé magazine Confidential, which became the novel’s Hush-Hush, the periodical organized by character Sid Hudgeons.
Seven years later, director-producer Curtis Hanson (The Hand that Rocks the Cradle) and co-producer Brian Helgeland (Assassins) collaborated on a screenplay that would become the adaptation of Ellroy’s novel.
The film is true perfection and a paradigm of the term, “a work of art.” One could only be impressed by a story that takes formula into its hands so well and unpredictably. The writing is fantastic, but in combination with tour de force performances, it soars.
Exley is the generic hero, underestimated by everyone but himself. “Lose the glasses,” he is told on several occasions, with regard to his geeky attire–and he never does, despite his daily work at the less-than-appreciating LAPD. One is led to believe this due to Guy Pearce’s performance, despite having seen it a million times already. White is almost a caricature in his aggressive nature, but Russell Crowe says differently in the façade he uses to cover up any morsel of gratuity in his character. Vincennes the written character seems to constantly say, “Look, I know this was a murder, but calm down.” Vincennes the character, as acted by Kevin Spacey, seems completely serious in his slick role, and yet still likable for his relaxed attitude.
The most outstanding portion of the film, given the choice, is Kim Basinger. The woman represents a femme fatale in this neo-noir drama, in a subtle, unassuming, and seductive manner that only Veronica Lake and Lana Turner–both who earned winning nods in the film–could truly pull off. Ms. Basinger portrays a prostitute, yet even the most morally authoritative viewer would have difficulty not enjoying her performance.
What is meant is that the film is a performance all on its own. And at that, it is not a dash below absolute perfection. ☚