“There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”
You’re either going to love or hate Sin City. There’s no getting around that fact. Like the movies directed by Quentin Tarantino or Eli Roth, Sin City is a movie specific to its own tastes, and doesn’t care much about the opinions opposite of it. It’s a violent, gross, disgusting and putrid film full of the stuff that would make a Catholic priest faint. If that sounds like something you would like, by all means, be my guest and have at it. If you are repulsed by my description of the film, I certainly don’t blame you.
Based off of the comic book series by Frank Miller, Sin City is a film that follows four separate stories that (mostly) intertwine together. John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is an aged police officer who is viciously pursuing child rapist Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl). Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a rough-around-the-edges thug who is framed for the murder of a prostitute he slept with named Goldie (Jamie King). And Dwight (Clive Owen) is a private investigator who gets pulled into a turf war, risking the lives of cops and prostitutes alike.
What do all of these stories have in common? They all started because of a woman, and these men go out to kill because they love their woman. Or, at least, whatever constitutes as love in this universe, in which case it’s a one-night stand.
It’s so difficult to review a movie like Sin City. Why? Because it’s not for people like me, that’s why. I don’t like watching movies like Sin City. I don’t like watching blood and violence for the sake of blood and violence, or watching sex and nudity for the sake of sex and nudity. It’s hard to be non-biased with movies like these because I watch moments where a naked woman walks out with bare breasts and all, and I can’t help but imagine the director thinking “Hey, let’s have this actress naked in this scene, because boobs.”
Sin City is aggressively, unnecessarily violent. How violent? So violent that the least bloody scene in the movie came from Quentin Tarantino. That’s how bad it gets. Red, white, black and yellow blood splatter across the screen like Jackson Pollock was making a painting. Severed heads and body parts are frequently cut off and thrown around in the film like missing pieces to a G.I. Joe. Those body parts include testicles, by the way, on multiple occasions. And don’t even get me started on the absurdity of its kills. In one scene, Marv gets beaten, stabbed, shot, and crashed his car into a lake and still gets up to pursue Goldie’s killer. Good God, are these guys made of kevlar or something?
Remind you, I have no problem with violence in movies, but here it’s just far too absurd and disgusting to be able to fully stomach. When it’s used to illustrate an emotion or a point in movies like Pulp Fiction or Taxi Driver, I praise its purpose and its usage. Here, it illustrates no emotion or urgency. It’s a glorified selling point for a really long, disgusting, stupid movie.
I did like the visualization of Sin City. That, and its opening scene. I liked it’s black-and-white style, it’s sense of contrast and expert use of shadow and lighting. It gave it a strong reminiscent feeling of the classic neo-noir films that inspired the original Sin City comic books, the ones that have the snazzy saxophone playing in the background as two lovers stand on a balcony, telling each other that they love each other and that they never want to leave each other. The film itself, in fact, functions as a parody of the neo-noir genre: characters stand on balconies, docks, outrun police cars, smoke cigarettes and talk in thickly exaggerated accents to the point where it can’t be taken seriously.
Realize, however, that this wasn’t on accident; director Robert Rodriguez wanted you to see how he exaggerated details so you would understand that him and Frank Miller were lightly poking fun at the genre, all while at the same time suggesting delicate homages to it as well. I like that they tried to reach for a deeper effort with the film, even though their intentions were smarter than the film itself was.
So what’s my end consensus? Is it a movie that you should see or skip? I’ll leave that decision in your hands. For now, I have done my job in telling you what the movie is like, and I will wash my hands clean from it. I have church in the morning.