Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon Aoki, Josh Hartnett, Alexis Bledel, Jaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.
I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.
I was actually uncertain whether I should call this a re-watch since I watched it in the Extended Version for the first time. And while there is not that much new material, the fact that the various story parts are separated from each other in that version and you basically watch a series of short films instead of one intertwining movie does change the feeling of it quite a bit (I especially admit a certain frustration at the long credits that were shown after every segment and that I started to fast forward through them). But even so, so much of the film is burned in my memory that it outweighs the changes I think.
In any case the best thing about the film is certainly it’s visual style. It’s distinct, faithful to the original comics, the mix between black and white and color is cool (the only time it doesn’t work for me is with Alexis Bledel’s eyes) and it creates this very specific atmosphere that not only fits Sin City, it makes the city what it is.
Of course the cast is great too – with those people involved, that comes as no surprise (the only exception being Alexis Bledel, again, who can barely say a line without making me cringe). But the characters and the stories told through them are extremely problematic, to say the least. Almost everye woman is a sex worker in the film – even innocent, little Nancy grows up to be a stripper – and the few that aren’t are extremely sexualized anyway. All the men, on the other hand, are prime examples of hypermasculinity, who don’t talk much (if you don’t count their inner monologues), are aggressive and violent, live (and die) to protect the women, are so cool that it’s barely bearable and if you cut off their dicks, they literally turn into unhuman monsters. To call this film sexist and glamorizing violence would be putting it lightly.
And yet that world and the film’s utter dedication to it becomes entrancing and I kept falling under its spell. There’s just really something about it.