Crime/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/124mins
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba
Director: Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez is the director who brought us Once upon a Time in Mexico,
and I suppose, with the infallible wisdom of hindsight, you can say Sin
City is the next step in a logical progression from the pulp interest in
his earlier films.
Here he has teamed up with Mr. Comic Noir himself, Frank Miller, the author
and artist responsible for the Sin City graphic novels. Miller gets co-credited
as director with Rodriguez, but there’s little doubt that the real
work of making cinema here is Rodriguez’s. Miller’s role on
set was inspirational and the film is a faithful reproduction his work.
The film is shot in black and white with only odd flashes of colour that
are lifted from Miller’s use of spot colour (just one colour per
page to augment the black and white). Thus blood and the odd frock glare
out in one-tone red, the bad guy is yellow and a few other bits and pieces
turn up blue. The film looks great — and looks spookily exactly like
Miller’s books brought to life.
If you are not au fait with Miller’s work, imagine the child of film
noir and pulp cop fiction painted entirely black, and then locked in a
dark closet in a lightless room on a moonless night. That’s how dark
the Sin City stories are — corruption, prostitution, violence, murder,
psychos, jaded and bent cops, wackos, loonies and more violence.
Miller’s sprawling imagination has produced piles of stories, but
here Rodriguez focuses on three, that interweave and compliment each other.
Mickey Rourke is brilliant as the tortured Marv, who wakes up next to a
dead prostitute and goes in search of gruesome revenge. Clive Owen’s
ability to impose presence on the screen without actually being able to
act is useful in this comic book world, where he is Dwight, a lapsed cop
caught uncomfortably between the law and a gang of hookers. Bruce Willis
reminds us that he can actually act given the right part and direction
and turns in perhaps the best performance of the film as a policeman who
is falsely accused of raping a woman he was supposed to protect.
Review by Chris Page