PSIPOOK | film | sin city



Sin City
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

October, 2005

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