Sin City

In a dazzling blend of muted color, violence, and eroticism Frank Millers graphic novel Sin City has burst upon the screen with a visual style that is as diverse as the star studded cast that drives it.

Set in the fictional Basin City, the film is a series of segments that weave in and around each other to tell various stories and side plots without a clear cut beginning and end as the conclusion of one segment often mirrors portions of the events in another.

While the film does not have a linear plot in the traditional sense, each segment is a snapshot of life in Basin City and how it is viewed by the various people that dwell within. It does not take a genius to see that the city is rife with all manner of unsavory characters from child molesters to cannibals. Basin City is also a place where people are not always the sum of their parts as a violent and disfigured thug named Marv (Mickey Rourke) can show humanity and compassion as he attempts to avenge those who were wronged. It is a place where a person with a dubious past and a new face named Dwight (Clive Owen), is town between the life he left behind and his desire to protect those who are in danger.

The film is chocked full of dialogue that is reminiscent of classic pulp novels and comics of the 40’s and 50’s where characters were often as two dimensional as the pages in which their exploits were chronicled. While this at first seems awkward and hokey it tends to grow on you as it is an accurate reflection of the locales and inhabitants that comprise the city.

While most of the film is shot in a black and white style, there are flashes of color that make a gripping contrast to the usually blank characters. Examples of which are seen in many of the films violent action sequences where blood and other gore are used for artistic effect. In one example, graphic shooting segments are left in a muted black and white allowing us to see the gore in a muted sense. The impact of the scene is not lost but it is rendered in an artistic and unique manner that is amazing to see. While you should be horrified at what you see, you find yourself captivated by the clever color and camera work that is used to render the scene. At other times, the crimson color of blood is used to emphasize a scene and illustrate and illuminate a character.

If this sounds confusing, it is due to the fact that to many “Sin City”, is a film that is a unique looking film, that has a pacing and style all its own, and does not play by the traditional rules for a film. While films such as “Heavy Metal” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” have brought graphic novels and visually unique pulp stories to the screen, it is the constant adherence to the source material, and directors Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantinos ability to blend their unique styles seamlessly that makes this film interesting.

The action of the film is very well choreographed and despite being very, very graphic in places, it nonetheless entertains and rarely seems gratuitous. The film also has a surprising amount of comedy as there were several moments that caused the audience at my press screening to erupt.

While it does not offer much in the way of plot or acting, the performances are appropriate to the characters and settings .The all-star cast does a great job in conveying the motivations of their characters as the audience is given just what the need to know about a character to make the segments work.

While the film may not appeal to a mass audience due to the unique look and structure of the film, fans of Tarantino and Rodriguez are likely to embrace this film which should likely result in further adventures in Basin City sometime in the near future.

4 stars out of 5