Marlowe Review – Stylish and Entertaining Whodunit

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Marlowe, from Open Road Films, brings to the screen the newest installment in the famed detective series as the gumshoe takes on a missing lover case and becomes entangled in the shady side of the studio business.

The film opens with Philip Marlowe, played by Liam Neeson, in his 100th film, meeting with Claire Cavendish, played by Diane Kruger, who is explaining she is looking for her lover, Nico Petersen, who has gone missing. From the interview, we understand, in certain circles arrangements are acceptable to all parties and this is one of them.

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As our hard-charging detective agrees to do a little digging into the case, the preliminaries all point to an unfortunate hit and run outside a prestigious and extremely exclusive Los Angeles club. A very tidy ending to the case of the missing lover or so it seems.

Marlowe wants to deliver the bad news in person so he arrives at the home of screen star Dorothy Cavendish, played by Jessica Lange, who has a fondness for horses and money, and was fortunate to stumble on a financial manager that didn’t rob her blind.

She is obviously in control, her investments, career and the film studio she purchased on The Ambassador’s, played by Mitchell Mullen, advice, has placed her in the conductor’s position and everyone knows it.

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So today, our anti-establishment detective, who drinks too much and cares too little, arrives at her home unimpressed. As he explains to Claire, her lover is dead. She offers a different scenario as she explains she saw him, very much alive after the deaths scene was staged.

With this new information, Marlowe returns to the scene of the alleged crime and meets with Floyd Hanson, played by Danny Huston, who explains without the disclosure of information the meeting is over and as Marlowe declines to reveal his client, the two are at an impasse. We understand the club is a place where secrecy and discretion, are valued. The dirty deeds that occur behind the exclusive closed doors are kept there.

One his way out, he meets Nico Petersen’s sister Lynn, played by Daniela Melchior. She passes him information. He follows up and attempts to meet with her at a Venice Beach club and is greeted by thugs sent by Floyd Hanson.

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Being tuned-up, after what appeared to be such a cordial meeting, causes Marlowe to dig deeper and he finds himself pulling back another layer which leads further down the rabbit hole. Soon, he is roughed up again, this time, his is given a clue as the two hitmen are looking for Serena.

Marlowe, even as he lost his LAPD pension, is still legitimate and works with the cops every step of the way. They make it clear there are things he can do that they cannot do that they want him to do. This is one of those times. This sets up the explosive ending.

Marlowe is classic film-noir with a twist, a damsel in distress with an agenda. The imagery, darkened streets, neon lighting, shadows, coloring, tones and music, all flow into a seamless presentation of 1930s Los Angeles and the power and influence of the entertainment industry.

The ensemble cast pulls the audience along as the layers of intrigue are revealed. The mystery deepens throughout and the audience is kept in suspense until the very end, when the sides, which were always chosen, are now revealed.

Marlowe, a jazzy, smart, entertaining film, that delivers a stylish whodunit.

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Country: US.

Language: English.

Runtime: 109minutes.

Director: Neil Jordan.

Writer: Willian Monahan, based on the novel John Banville and characters based on Raymond Chandler.

Producer: Mark Fasano, Patrick Hibler, Billy Hines, Philip Kim.

Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange, Alan Cumming, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Danny Huston, Francois Arnaud, Daniela Melchior, Seana Kerslake, Colm Meaney, Darrell D’Silva, Mitchell Mullen.

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