Film Review: L.A. Confidential

I can honestly say that I haven’t enjoyed a movie as much as this for quite some time, even though things like Belle and Tim’s Vermeer have entertained me thoroughly over the last couple of months, I didn’t find myself engrossed in them in the way I did with L.A. Confidential. It’s one of those films that has a big “name”, a big cast and a reputation to match and for once, managed to hit that hype.

It just drew me in, grabbed me and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Essentially a game of cat and mouse, in which the tangled spiders web of lies, twists and deceit becomes stickier and more fascinating as the story unfolds, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it could become stale and unbelievable as time elapses, but at no point, even when faced with some of it’s more questionable actions, did I feel anything other than accepting.

Cast - L.A. Confidential

I think that a lot of that is down to the cast, it’s a lot of big names: Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce. Even the supporting cast packs a punch: Danny DeVitoJames Cromwell, Graham Beckel, Ron Rifkin all instantly recognisable faces and even a very young Simon Baker makes an appearance. And not one of them appears to be walking through the film. They’re all on form and giving it their best. You feel they believe in this film and the characters they are playing. And this sense carries from the screen to ensure you believe in it too. The story and script gives them the room to run free and they have the skill, talent and script to not break that trust.

The other thing that really strikes you is the pace of the film, it’s perfect. The film just falls over 2 hours length wise with a running time of 138 minutes, and yet at no point does it feel long. Because it drew me and kept my attention. The time just flew by. I never felt bored, I never thought about the time, in fact, I’m not sure my eyes ever left the screen.

Russell Cowe & Guy Pearce - L.A. Confidential

There is really are only two criticisms I can throw at it: firstly, I found it slightly hard to follow the time frame in which the film is set, and thinking back now, I’m still not exactly sure what era, year or decade the film is set in. It’s “back in the day” but that’s as much as I can tell you. It wasn’t helped by fleeting references to earlier dates and times spread throughout the film seeming to muddy this slightly and add to my confusion. I think the problem for me is that the world the film is set in seemed to time travel. There are times when it feels very pre-war and yet other scenes come across post war. And with the date references being so specific, it’s hard to place the characters when they’re mentioning events that took place in 1942 in a scene that feels like it set in the 1920s, even though it obviously isn’t.

While, this issue with the time frame is there for me, it doesn’t actually detract or cause the film as big as problem as you’d be forgiven for thinking it would. As previously mentioned the casts’ performance, and the source material they are working from are so harmonious and the emotions they exude and stir within you so strong that you almost forget you’re struggling with anything in the film at all.

Kevin Spacey & Danny DeVito - L.A. Confidential

The second issue I have with the film is the depth of character development. There is quite a bit of explanation around the main characters, and you really start to understand the reasons and motivations of them that drive them as the story twists and the web closes in. But it’s twisted by the supporting cast and they aren’t given the same amount of exposure, and this meant that the film lost a little clarity in those characters to the point that you almost have to focus solely on the main front men. For me that was a shame. A few minutes explaining why the supporting cast took the decisions they did would have just brought everything together and rounded the story off perfectly, in a way that would compliment it and make it even better. But really, I am simply nitpicking at the minor issues I feel I need to find about it. I must not let you think that I didn’t like this film, or that I’m contradicting my opening praise too badly, because I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and would recommend it highly.

My biggest concern now though, and it’s a concern I have with a lot of thrillers, is that while they can keep you seriously entertained on the first viewing, because their twist and turns all new and powerful enough to stir emotion, it’s the second time around, the time you already know how the story ends that they suffer. Your foresight into their ending means they lose their edge. I worry this will happen now with L.A. Confidential, and the next time I see it, it won’t move me in the same way. I’m happy to have this worry though, because, I found it so good, I want to see it again!

9 out of 10 stars (9 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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