Film Scouts Reviews

"L.A. Confidential"

by David Sterritt

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"L.A. Confidential" is a competently made genre piece that broke no fresh ground but offered the simple pleasures of commercial American cinema in reasonably lively form, complete with capable acting and the kind of zippy editing that non-Hollywood pictures rarely manage to pull off. I can't get more enthusiastic than "competently made genre piece" largely because of the picture's basically amoral message; the story centers on an idealistic young police officer who thinks he can do the job without violence and law-bending but ends up swinging as wildly as the other cops, on the theory that "results" and "justice" matter more than rules and regulations. Also creepy is the fact that every single female and racial-minority character is a low-life of one kind or another. Still and all, this is the closest Curtis Hanson has yet come to effective filmmaking--his previous movies include the wretched "River Wild" and the popular but idiotic "Hand That Rocks the Cradle"--and in this year's Cannes field it looked better than it would have in more distinguished company.

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