Cyprus Mail

Film review: Sin City: A Dame to Die For ***

By Alexia Evripidou

Dark, sexual and violent, Sin City: A Dame to Die For sizzles with stomach-churning intensity but without the same shock factor as its groundbreaking 2005 prequel Sin City. Can a film be as innovative as its pioneering prequel? Maybe, and although A Dame to Die For won’t go down in history as a revolutionary cinematic breakthrough it is more of the same phenomenal graphics, badass characters and dark, contorted plots – everything its fans loved about the original movie and eagerly await to see more of in this one. It doesn’t disappoint.

Like Sin City, it is a tangle of interweaving plots that reject chronological order but in some way or another tie in to the main plot. Staring some of the old characters and plenty of new ones, co-directors Robert Rodriquez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller’s Sin City graphic novels back to the movies. The city’s most hardcore residents cross words and body fluids with some of its most notorious inhabitants. Refreshingly, a chunk of these characters are deadly Sin City women, not your typical Nicosia crowd. Powerful and awful demi-goddesses, they are feared and respected by all. With their ‘aim to kill’ attitude and flexible samurai sword techniques, they take no hostages, only severed heads.

Rodriquez and Miller stay true to the prequel’s violent nature and deliver punches below the belt, again and again, maybe this time in a more violently graphic Tarantino-esque style.
Visually, the film’s technique is indisputably thrilling. With the odd colour splash scattered throughout the grizzly grey, blacks and whites of the seedy darkness, there’s hardly a scene anywhere that doesn’t look like it could be a frame torn from a graphic novel.

The term Nihilistic Noir, which is being used to describe this crime thriller movie, suits it perfectly. It is dark, moody and sombre. The film booms into play with the reverberating music, threatening your undivided attention. Meanwhile, visually grabbing you buy the guts and dragging you, often willingly, through an assault of decrepit human violence, desolate ethics and plenty of sex. But not necessarily in an unpleasant way, now there’s a moralistic oxymoron for you. At times you might find yourself crouching low in your seat peeking through fingers pretending to cover your eyes. Speaking of eyes, ripping them out of one’s head seems to be a fun past time for some of the characters in this sequel.

Rock on a prosthetically enhanced and digitised Micky Rourke, with a cigar hanging from his mouth, set against the bitter and graphically rainy Sin City, and the film begins. Suffering with amnesia and yet enjoying torturing a bunch of people who set someone on fire and you have the line that the film continues with. Rourke’s gravelly voice acts as the narrative, introducing you to the story while he goes about his evening pulverising the ‘baddies’.

The sound of the voice-overs alone are powerful, echoing through your core, snaring you in the film’s clutches, allowing it to violate your emotions with every sinister twist and turn. Again, I repeat, it is delightfully dark.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, new this time round, plays Johnny, a hot headed mysterious gambler set on taking down his sworn enemy, the Mayor of Sin City, who doesn’t seem to have many friends at all. Jessica Alba, when not half naked and contorting on stage for the amusement of the city’s low life, plots to kill the mayor in retribution for her dead lover (Bruce Willis). If she is not doing either of those two things, then she is getting drunk, all of which she does excellently and owns her character’s emotional and physical states with convictions. Josh Brolin steps into the film as Dwight, fighting his personal demons and searching for a new life, only to get sucked back into his past by his addiction, Ava (Eva Green). A she devil of devils, who enjoys several naked swimming sessions, I’m sure the DVD version of this film will fly off the shelves effortlessly. Eva plays a fantastically old-school twisted femme fetal, irresistible to all men.

The film’s hardball characters revel in humanity’s destructive emotions; revenge, uninhibited aggression, murder and sexual manipulation resonating with the definition of nihilism as a philosophical position, which argues; ‘that the world, and human existence, is without objective meaning and purpose’. This is reflected in the characters seemingly wandering around without any real goals, other than to hurt someone or themselves.

With a stellar cast, hot acting, a convoluted story and sensational graphics, A Dame To Die For is a razzle-dazzle success that will send you home pumped to the max with adrenaline. I recommend that you mind you’re driving after watching this film!

DIRECTED BY Robert Rodriquez, Frank Miller
STARRING Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
USA 2014 102min

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