Sin City (2005) is about style
Sin City (2005) is such an original movie, that it has its own time-period, its own, unique noir environment, and its own depressed, violent, hard-boiled characters. The movie moves through its events like flipping through a tabloid, and I have no doubt that Frank Miller earned his director screen-credit because his work is essentially the film’s storyboard. The visual style of the movie inspires and catches the eye, but also horrifies us with its dark, rated-R secrets. We will see Thursday the 21st if A Dame to Kill For (2014) can match the high-bar of style set by Sin City.
The world of Sin City is completely unique, because there is no place on Earth quite like it. I mean, it reminds me of New York or Chicago, but there are places and things in the movie out of the 30s or 40s. There are also Ferraris on the road, so I’m not sure what time period they were going for, if any. In some ways, the city embodies the people in it: sad and depressed. And if the characters aren’t sad and depressed, they are violent and depressed. There’s more hard-boiled moodiness in this movie than all the Humphrey Bogart movies put together.
Much like other serials, Sin City the comic spanned many pages, so there was a lot of source material to draw from for this movie. The sequel to this movie is A Dame To Kill For (2014), which is based on the same Sin City limited series. However, it has other material added to the movie, and is structured in an episodic way like the original Sin City. It should be interesting to compare the two.
I have no explanation how Bruce Willis will appear in the sequel to Sin City, but it will no doubt be in a flashback or as a hallucination. He was the best actor in the first film and that was a good choice by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller.
Mickey Rourke plays Marv and I barely recognize him in Sin City. His acting is brilliant. The pace helps hide his acting weaknesses, and Rourke’s face is full of blood by the thirty minute mark. He protects women with violence and kicks in everyone’s face with honest redemption, but it is his face that always turns out for the worst. It is an amazing character drama to follow, like watching a show on HBO, but with the boring parts cut out.
Clive Owen as Dwight tries his best Marv impression and it works. Some dark comedy not present in the Marv story complements his performance, plus it makes the movie chuckle-enducing. He smokes with oil or something all over him and he accompanies some whores on a quest for a decapitated head. Hilarious.
The all-star cast delivers what an all-star cast is capable of. I wonder how Rodriguez and the producers got all those a-list actors into the movie. It is something to behold, if nothing else, like being escorted by your favorite celebrities through a mashed up pile of bodies. I guess it is secretly easy to act hard-boiled, depressed, and violent. Or maybe it’s a challenge. Either way, the characters emulate the style and it all fits together.
Closing the movie with Bruce Willis as Hartigan is a good move. They took, arguably, the best story in all of the Sin City collection and made it the anchor of the movie. This part of the movie is a good character piece, and Hartigan looks virtuous compared to what was presented earlier. Perhaps this is on purpose.
The only criticism I have of the movie is its cliche dialogue, which pokes holes in the immersion from time to time. If people spoke like that way in a Universal monster movie, it’d be criticized from here to Tuesday, but Sin City gets away with it. People must be okay with the dialogue considering the mood and tone. Roger Ebert gave this movie four stars and others have done the same.
The only problem with making such a stylistic movie like this one is that sometimes style can overwhelm everything else. I think the drama and the character pieces shine through at the appropriate moments, so the style doesn’t cripple the movie. Anyway, the style makes it more than the just a noir piece, more like modern noir or neo-noir or something. In any case, Sin City is an interesting movie that doesn’t pull any punches, and you’ve got to respect it for that.