Vengence and vice

Frank Miller’s ‘Sin City’ graphic novels are in black and white with occasional splashes of colour. The stories are seedy, inspired by pulp novels and film noir. In this world every hero is a tortured gunslinger and every woman a temptress.

Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids) painstakingly recreates Miller’s comics on-screen, directly lifting panels and cutting nary a line of dialogue. The adaptation is so perfect that Rodriguez gave Miller a co-director credit.

‘Sin City’ adapts four of Miller’s intermingling stories. Hartigan (Bruce Willis) plays a cop on the day of his retirement, but with a case he cannot leave, one involving a paedophile and a missing little girl.

Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a tough brute who finds the girl of his dreams but loses her to a silent assassin. Dwight (Clive Owen) finds himself involved in a turf-war between the police, the mob and a ring of prostitutes. And finally, there is the framing story which features ‘The Man’ (Josh Hartnett).

It can be said that the violence in this film is as unrelenting as its visual style. Of course we are spared the realism of the brutality because of the black and white imagery. There are also some excellent performances from Willis and Rourke, who both play characters looking for nobility in the face of overwhelming odds. Also, look for a barely recognisable Elijah Wood who plays the anti-thesis of his signature role of Frodo in the Lord of the Rings.

Sin City played at this year’s Cannes film festival, and won the Technical Grand Prize for the ‘visual shaping’. A sequel has already been green-lit and shooting is currently scheduled to start in January.

Bottom Line: If you thought the ‘Crazy 88s’ sequence was the best part in Kill Bill, this movie is for you. Those with a weak stomach for violence on screen are advised to look elsewhere.