Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) / Thriller-Mystery
MPAA Rated: R for violence, sexuality and language
Running Time: 102 min.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle
Director: Carl Franklin
Screenplay: Carl Franklin (Based on the novel by Walter Mosley)
Review published February 8, 1998
Based on the novel by Walter Mosley. In the year 1948, Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins (Washington, Crimson Tide) is having trouble paying his mortgage. This leads to his not being able to turn down an offer to play private detective and find out the location of a missing socialite (Beals, Flashdance). She just so happens to be the main squeeze of a mayoral candidate, but soon Easy finds things not-so-easy when murders and double-crosses entangle our hero in a world of trouble he may be too involved in to get out of.
There is a lot this film has going for it. A gorgeous jazz score, a terrific performance by Denzel Washington, a top-notch supporting cast, beautiful costumes, outstanding sets and automobiles, and adept direction by Franklin (One False Move, High Crimes). All the elements were here for an outstanding film save for one vital thing: it's curiously uninvolving.
The characters are good, no question it's a nice mystery and a good script of Franklin's adaptation of Mosley's novel, but the story is also a bit difficult to follow, and if you can't keep up with all the characters you'll end up not knowing or caring what happens for the last half of the film. This is one case where reading the book might help to appreciate an otherwise convoluted film.
©1998 Vince Leo