Friday (neo)Noir: ‘Sin City’ impresses by commiting all imaginable sins
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Written by Frank Miller
Every Friday during the month of June, the Friday Film Noir column will be taking a slightly offbeat look at noir in film. More specifically, films that embrace noir elements in their own fashion yet are not from the traditionally recognized era will be under the radar. Enjoy!
The spillover effect can be a wonderful thing, especially when the subject matter is as malleable as noir. A good story about fatalism, characters either coming to terms with or foolishly fighting the inexorable downward spiral their lives are condemned to suffer, decent people doing questionable things for supposedly noble causes, others not investing in noble causes at all…There is more than one venue for such wonderfully depressing tales about wonderfully depressing characters. Since noir is recognized as a variety of storytelling which is visually arresting, comics (or graphic novels) also spring to mind, something author Frank Miller took to heart when he wrote his Sin City series, a hyper stylized, super violent version of an already stylized an violent genre. It was only a matter of time, therefore, before somebody came along to transplant what was on the page to the screen. That man was director Robert Rodriguez, with a little bit of help from Frank Miller himself.
Sin City the film takes a interesting narrative route in order to cinematically translate what was in the comic. Given that Miller wrote several different stories occurring in the same metropolis but which concerned different characters, rather than pick one, director Rodriguez chose to adapt three (four in truth, given that the trilogy has a bookend involving a recurring character) in a single movie. One involves a hardened police detective (Bruce Willis) as he tries to save, for the second time in his life, the same innocent girl (Jessica Alba) from the clutches of the sadistic, perverted son (Nick Stahl) of a corrupt senator (Powers Booth). A second sees a beefed up, career criminal (Micky Rourke) go all around town in an attempt to avenge the death of the one hooker (Jamie King) who was ever nice to him, a journey which sees him face off against villains as curious and terrifying as an influential priest (Rutger Hauer) and the latter’s demonic assassin (Elijah Wood). Finally, another has a vigilante gunman (Clive Owen) put an end to a crooked cop’s (Benicio Del Torro) reign of terror, which has reverberations on a city district literally run by hookers (chiefly Rosario Dawson, Devon Aoki, Alexis Bledel).