Monday 14 June 2010

This won't end well.

London, after the war. A smooth-talking, insinuating American on the make moves through a shambolic maze of illicit entertainments and illegal business, a man of the streets, a friend of the people. He occupies a stable niche in the underworld as a club tout, luring unwary, well-heeled revellers to part with their money at his patron's establishment. But it isn't enough for him. He wants something more. He wants to be someone, and he'll sell anyone out, even himself, to get there.

Night And The City is a long, thin blade inserted deep within the body cavity and skillfully moved around in such a way that it slices through every major organ within reach. It's a surgically precise descent to the depths, from the depths. Noir exists in a world of seedy glamour that floats like an oily slick on the surface of murky waters; barring a few glimpses of the surface sheen, this is a movie that is shot underwater.

Every time Harry Fabian takes another step on his degradation trip, every time you think the waters can't be muddied further, things get even more complicated and dire. This isn't a plot; it's an archetypal progression, the exact photographic negative of the much-vaunted Hero's Journey. When the final act comes, with the sickening crunch of a snapping neck, you are almost relieved; the long downward arc is finally over.

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