Thursday, February 19, 2009

Noir: Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Prior to watching Double Indemnity, I had no idea what film noir even was. After watching the movie, I’m not sure I see the full appeal of the noir movement. I enjoyed the movie and liked certain aspects of it, but for me it lacked the creativity and depth to keep me on the edge of my seat. It’s definitely not something I’ll rush to see again although I completely understand why it was such a revolutionary film type when it first emerged.

My favorite part of the film was the way it was actually shot. The darkness and shadows gave it a gritty, creepy feeling that I liked. I also really enjoy the flashback sequences we saw the plot through. Although it gives away most of the ending first, it is a unique technique that isn’t seen often enough. Other than the filming style though, I didn’t such much about noir that appeals to me. I like movies with deep plots that slowly unravel and keep you guessing—this was not one of those films. From the start it was apparent that all of the characters were crooked and it was soon apparent who was going to try to kill who. There honestly wasn’t a single point in the film when I was wondering what would happen next. The fem fatal was another critical part of noir that I did not find appealing. Phyllis was just annoying to me. She was transparent with her intent towards all the men around her, and although she was an independent figure, she seemed incapable of reaching her desires without dragging someone else down.

The one part of the movie I really did like, in fact that the only part of it that kept me interested, was Keyes. His character was the only one that showed true competence and personality; he wasn’t just another bad guy. Keyes was an expert detective even though insurance was his true business, and he was the only character with wit enough to realize the schemes of those around him. Keyes was the only “cool” in this film in my opinion. He redeemed the overly simple plot line and kept the story interesting. I’m not saying that Keyes was innocent or an entirely upstanding man, but he was the one man who stood out amongst his fellow characters. He wasn’t acting out of desire for money or power; he was seeking truth because he didn’t like people trying to outsmart the system he had spent his life working with. That’s what makes Keyes worth while for me; I admire anyone who is willing to fight for something the way he fought to solve the mystery surrounding murder of Phyllis’ husband.


  1. I completely agree with you. While it did have a few interesting shots and scenes, not enough to make it into a film I would see again. I wasn't a huge fan of the overall simple plot either.

  2. I agree with you about Phyllis, she is a bit annoying. How could she have been made better though?