“Come to Los Angeles! The sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see. There are jobs aplenty, and land is cheap. Every working man can have his own house, and inside every house, a happy, all-American family. You can have all this, and who knows… you could even be discovered, become a movie star… or at least see one. Life is good in Los Angeles… it’s paradise on Earth.” Ha ha ha ha. That’s what they tell you, anyway.” Sid Hudgens – LA Confidential
LA Confidential was a story written by author James Ellroy in 1990 and it was adapted into a movie in 1997. I was late to the party in watching the film. I don’t think I saw it until a few years ago, but wow, it is a film worth waiting for.
I knew the synopsis of the story and was fairly neutral on my thoughts towards the film, which is,sometimes, the best way to be.
LA Confidential is film noir in style and tone. The plot, without ruining it for newbies, revolves around a homicide in a diner, which is not as cut and dried as it first appears and leads to the seedy underbelly of LA. It is not pretentious, it does not need to try and be clever….it is clever.
The costumes, set designs, music and locations are perfect, the plot is gripping, but it’s the cast that pulls this film together. Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe are not playing quintessential heroes, in fact they are pretty unlikeable characters, on the face of things, but you end up rooting for them. There is a buzz/chemistry, call it what you will, that is bouncing off the cast. Everyone is at the top of their game.
Kim Basinger won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this movie and quite rightly so. Her understated portrayal of Lynn Bracken, a woman who has seen her LA dreams of acting take a different career path, gives the film it’s emotional centre.
Russell Crowe’s career flew to a whole new stratospheric level on the basis of his turn as rough cop with a heart, Bud White, rightly so. Guy Pearce, as Ed Exley, trying so hard to climb the career ladder that he pisses everybody off. Kevin Spacey as Detective Jack Vincennes, smooth, friends with everybody, but underhanded and sneaky.
In short, if you love a good thriller, you need to watch this movie. LA Confidential is in my top ten movies. It is Hollywood at it’s best.
LA Confidential Trivia:
Many of the events in the film were in fact based on real life events
Russell Crowe got the part of Bud White on the strength of his performance in Romper Stomper
Kevin Spacey’s character, Jack Vincennes, was based loosely on Dean Martin
The Director, Curtis Hanson, said that Kim Basinger was the first and only choice for the role of Lynn Bracken