Three LA cops investigate a mass shooting and uncover a world of corruption, greed, and lust in the 1950’s. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is my touchstone for film noir with the character of the hard-boiled detective split between Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Guy Pierce. Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for her femme fatale Lynn Bracken. The film also took best adapted screenplay.
Plot Summary: What draws me back to the film are the compelling and complex characters that I want to cheer for. Each character teams up or against each other in a series of tight scenes with brilliant dialogue. I also applaud the film for creating clear sense of place. From the opening narration from the salacious gossip columnist Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) we are drawn into the world of cheap glamour, shattered dreams, and fake justice that is Los Angeles.
From there we meet our three headed “hard boiled detective”: the morally bent Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) who makes arrests to fuel the gossip rags; the laconic, hot blooded Bud White (Russell Crowe), and the isolated do-gooder Ed Exley (Guy Pierce). Each man’s style clashes initially, yet they start complimenting each other investigating the converging cases of a diner massacre, high class prostitution ring, and a political blackmailing scheme.
Bud and Ed are taken in by the duplicitous sex pot Lynn Bracken who falls in love with Bud, but is made to turn the cops against each other by her pimp Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn). Over our cops is hard-nosed Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell) who plays the strict public custodian of justice and the secret gang wrangler beating criminals straight.
I love the clever twists, changing motives, fast-faced dialogue, and suspenseful action scenes. Hanson’s camera compliments the different moods on the page so perfectly. I’ve probably seen L.A. CONFIDENTIAL two dozen times, yet each time I watch the film, I find myself re-discovering the ins and outs of the plot. I come back to it for the distinct and complex characters. Each actor preforms with a rigor that enlivens the genre and tropes mixed in the piece.
Until next time dear reader keep it “Off the record, on the QT and very HUSH, HUSH.”