15
1hr 41mins

A mirror image to its 1997 bedfellow L.A. Confidential, Carl Franklin’s adaptation of Walter Mosley’s novel is an ultra-cool neo noir, featuring electric turns from Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle. It’s the great detective series that never was.

This film screens as a part of our season Set it Off: A Tribute to Black Genre Cinema, click here to learn more.

Unfortunately no Audio Description track is available for this feature.
Black Genre Cinema
Carl Franklin
15
Thriller
English

The great Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time) adapts Walter Mosley’s hardboiled Devil in a Blue Dress. The result is one of the best thrillers of the 1990s, and a neo-noir to rank alongside L.A. Confidential.

Denzel Washington plays Ezekial ‘Easy’ Rawlins, a war veteran struggling to make ends meet in 1948 Los Angeles. Introduced to DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore) and asked to track down the elusive Daphne (Jennifer Beals), Rawlins finds himself drawn into a game of political intrigue involving a failed mayoral candidate, institutional corruption, and crooked cops, playing each side off against one another to solve the case and make it out alive.

Carried by expertly realised period detail and Franklin’s crisp direction, the suspenseful, atmospheric brilliance of Devil in a Blue Dress is a vehicle for incisive commentary on the colour divide in mid-century America.

A spot-on adaptation of Walter Mosley’s beloved first Easy Rawlins novel (the novels will become a television series next year), electric turns by Washington and Don Cheadle as Rawlins’ trigger-happy friend Mouse make this a rich, alluring, savvy delight, one offering an intriguing counterpoint to L.A. Confidential, released in the same year and set in the same period, and to which this almost reads as an alternate history.

The film’s lack of box office success may have robbed us of a series of Easy Rawlins films starring Washington and directed by Franklin, which could have been one of cinema’s great detective sagas. But this wonderful film easily stands on its own.

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Tue 30 Aug
Mon 19 Sep
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