Archived: Review: LA Confidential (1997) - archived

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Off the record, on the QT and very hush, hush, this is the seedy underbelly of the city of Angels, Los Angeles, California. The story of crooked cops and prostitution, journalism and one man who believes in justice. Its the 1950s and there is to be a new face of LA law enforcement, but after an in house beating of prisoners that leaks to the papers there needs to be a public showing that the LAPD can handle the situation. Enter Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce) who stands up for truth and whats right and he’s not afraid to take the stand and snitch on his fellow officers.

Following a massacre at the Nite Owl cafe where one of the officers involved in the trial is found dead, Exley, Bud White (Russell Crowe) and Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) begin investigations, each in their own unique way. What they find is a trail of deceit, betrayal and corruption that goes all the way to the top.

Incredible performances, wonderfully shot and a story that weaves in and out, LA Confidential is one of the greatest movies ever made. There’s a lot going on, it can get a little crowded at times but there will always be an explanation following in the next scene or so. Based on the novel by James Ellroy as part of his LA Quartet series this shows what happens to the LA Police Department after organised crime boss, Mickey Cohen, is put away.

The performances are what really stand out in this movie, from Crowe as Bud White, the violent cop who tries to look after every damaged female after an incident when he was younger. Pearce as the slimy Exley trying to live up to his fathers expectations but finding himself becoming twisted with the system. Spacey as Vincennes whose performance made James Ellroy say “it’s some of the best self-loathing I’ve ever seen on screen”.

But its not just the main players who are on form, Kim Basinger and James Cromwell head up the supporting cast and match those of the leads. The score and direction match and keep the pace going smoothly in a film with a run time of over two hours. When originally scripted the document was over one hundred pages long and needed trimming. The differences between the book and film are numerous but both are masterpieces in their own medium.

LA Confidential is a glory to behold, 50s LA never looked so delightful and despite the bad things going on there it makes you want to be a detective in that time. The film takes you on a journey and the ultimate payoff is the shootout finale. There aren’t enough superlatives that can describe this movie, if you’ve seen it, you understand, if you haven’t you must. Cinema at its finest.

Archived: Review: LA Confidential (1997) - archived

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