Script: Brian Helgeland, Curtis Hanson
Cast: Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe
Setting: 1950s, Los Angeles
Rated : 9 Stars
As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen - one strait-laced, one brutal, and one sleazy - investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice.
Obviously, this is a rewatch. I don’t remember if I saw this in the cinema on its original release1 , but I know I know I bought it on dvd back when buying dvds was a new thing. And I’ve certainly rewatched it since then, but not for years.
It is still a great film.
I could almost wish I hadn’t seen it before so that I could come to it afresh, because even after all these years I could still remember not just the plot but specific scenes. That only happens with films I really enjoy, most films turn into a generalised haze in memory, but not L.A. Confidential.
But it is worth the rewatch just to see how young Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce look. My god, they’re babies in this.
But it is a fascinating film still, even knowing what is to come, because of the characters. Watching them interact is probably even more entertaining on a rewatch, because you know what is to come.
I was talking recently about how popular culture portrays crooked cops as bad. Okay, that’s fine, makes sense. But at the same time, a cop who gets another cop into trouble is seen as even worse. It’s like a rat in the mafia, only difference is, we all know that organised criminals are criminals. But surely police should be policed to a much higher standard than criminals? So that was in my mind while I was watching this film, and seeing how Exley is set up as the too-straight political police officer who will even rat out his brother cops was very interesting. Sure, he does it for personal gain, but that’s after the fact, he always tries to prevent corruption/police brutality etc, and yet he is portrayed in a negative light, especially when contrasted with Bud White. White, the everyday “normal” cop, who propensity for violence is what makes him valued. It is also what makes people underestimate him, he aint as dumb as he acts. But why should that character be portrayed as the hero? he is the more violent one, the one who goes to stop a beating only to get stuck in himself when someone insults his mother. Yes, we viewer know that this is a sore-point for the character, but come on, how is this the actions of someone we’re supposed to look up to.
And yet, if someone were to ask me which character I prefer, I’d go with Bud.
1997! twenty years ago! ↩