Starring: Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe
Director: Curtis Hanson
Running Time: 138 mins
L.A. Confidential is an American film about the years following the arrest of notorious gangster Mickey Cohen, and the efforts of a budding young detective to bring down police corruption during the Cohen era, along with a brutal former cop and a sleazy Hollywood drug buster.
This may not be the most exciting mystery ever put to the big screen, but it’s still an enthralling and consistently entertaining watch. L.A. Confidential brings together a collection of fantastic performances along with a wonderful tribute to the best of film-noir, making it a must-see for any fans of the classic Hollywood genre. It may not be the most complex or unpredictable story, but it’s without a doubt fascinating to follow from start to finish.
Let’s start with Curtis Hanson’s directing. By the evidence of this film, Hanson is clearly a passionate fan of film-noir, but that’s what makes this such an impressive tribute to the genre. It’s got all the aesthetic touches from Venetian blinds to the blazing heat of the Los Angeles suburbs, but the fantastic attention to detail of the film means that the feel of film-noir goes even further than simply the aesthetics.
Whilst the actual mystery of the film isn’t so stunning and unpredictable, the way that the cops go about solving it feels exactly like any classic noir movie. The great thing about L.A. Confidential is that it feels nothing like a modern cop drama, and watching the three lead detectives travel around Los Angeles questioning witnesses and suspects is what sets it apart, and that’s why this is such a great watch for anyone who loves classic film-noir.
Moving on, the performances in this film are brilliant. It’s quite a wide ensemble cast, with a whole host of A-listers wherever you look, but everyone does a very good job right the way through. Guy Pearce is impressive as the rookie detective who has to go up against the corrupt allegiances of the LAPD, whilst Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey give striking performances as the brutal ex-cop and corrupt celebrity buster respectively.
Thanks to the collection of fantastic performances in this film, it’s often more exciting to learn about the personal lives of these characters than the actual mystery, and that’s where my main issue with the film comes in. As enthralling as the moments where we look at the various characters’ relationships and motivations were, I was never quite so gripped by a mystery that seemed pretty predictable from the outset.
There’s still a lot of excitement to be had from L.A. Confidential, but I just felt it was missing a really great mystery for the viewer to try and solve along with the lead detectives. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this fascinating tribute to film-noir, full of detail and passion in the directing and acting, and that’s why I’m giving L.A. Confidential an 8.0.