L.A. Confidential – a gritty story with equally great ensemble

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January 19, 2013 by Mithil



Justice, What’s it got to do with the situation of a individual? or does a violent background and fractured present alter the very definition of the word? Well if I was a Law student I would have laughed at the above questions and would have gladly declared them as atrocious. But to a man who is driven simply by the whims of life, whose emotions overlap the rarely heeded pragmatism, this question does disturb him, transforming his real self to a person who in the walks of society becomes a pariah. This movie discusses 3 such characters to whom the justice is as ambiguous as law and rules.


In the crime ridden city of L.A. thrives a just another police department, Bud White (Russell Crowe) – a brute looking officer who don’t like to take shit from others and vehemently despises female oppressors. He subsequently falls in love with Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a small-time-big actress look a like prostitute. A self righteous cop Edmund J. Exley (Guy Pearce) who see life as black and white, brilliant on field he lacks the team spirit in the force. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) is effervescent, highly reputed cop, corrupt in handling things and doesn’t shy away from leaking stories to tabloids for a good column. This three male figures get entwined in a mass murder investigation at a cafe that is deep rooted in the system.


Based on James Ellroy novel of same title, it sketches L.A. in the 50s when drugs were inoculating in the veins of the city. First of all I would like to admit that the setting and feel of the movie is very much apt with the era. The coats, cars and the ladies were very much in accordance with the vintage era. The opening sequence shows White as a bull headed brute officer who abhors oppression particularly against women. He is very accustomed to the streets and knows just well enough on how to keep them clean. His character is handled with such delicateness as opposed to the rage he exudes. He is kind of character who we would like to see in the real world but not held accountable for his actions.


As the story progresses you are bound to sucked in the mystery born and the inter-connection of the characters. Exley a close opposite of White persona develops a friction with the same that is interesting and it blesses us with such great moments of cinematic confliction between the two. The bitterness between the obstinate and the inflexible does develop the core of the story from where it goes through different paths before the imminent confluence at the climax.


Then there is Vincennes who with his cheesy dialogues such as this and many others, injects the right kind of humour. There is that awesome feeling when the case is declared as close and you tend to look at the time and see another 30 odd minutes to go, you almost do the rubbing of both hands waiting for the ultimate climax to come. And I can say with utmost ingenuity that it does justice to it’s story.


For me there was never a dull moment, the images kept moving building the story of murder mystery around characters that have such depth. The background music of the movie is a big add-on, it makes still moments in the movie very pleasant. Although I have talked about only three characters but there is this equally talented cast of actors whose characters should be equally credited.


I couldn’t help myself mentioning Kim Basinger for her portrayal and for putting so much of sincerity in the character. Danny DeVito is such a pleasant actor to watch when he is in full flow. James Cromwell and David Strathairn also did great making their invaluable contribution to the movie.

With such an big talent pool at the disposal, I believe one cannot even fathom of making a movie that is deemed to be unwatchable. The acting meted out by the ensemble cast is superior as is the story that keeps you on your toes till the end. Yeah in the end it leaves a message that we normally neglect, that we the people have the ability to change the system if we seek to.

 L.A. Confidential (1997) on IMDb 8.4/108.4/10
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