Palmetto represents the current state
of Neo-Film Noir. Good but not great

Palmetto represents the current state of Neo-Film Noir. Good but not great. The story has enough twists and turns to be interesting, the acting is typical noir camp and the direction fast pace at times with intermitted slow patches. With few exceptions, the days of the classic old noir, such as Double Indemnity, are gone. Sure there are some like L.A. Confidential, that come up to the classics but films like Palmetto are more like the 'B' feature noir popular in the forties.

Palmetto follows a recently released ex-con, Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson). Released after serving two years for a crime he was framed for, Harry reluctantly returns to the sleepy Florida town of Palmetto. He lives with his girl friend, (Gina Girshon) a scrap metal artist and begins to look for a job. At a bar he meets the rich and beautiful mystery woman (Elizabeth Shue) who offers him a job to stage a phony kidnapping of her step daughter played by Chloe Sevigny. Hot scenes and bad dialogue abound including the classic 'B' noirish line "It was raining. I wished the rain would wash away this whole dirty business and me with it."

Corny lines are part of this genre of movie and the noir lover will not be disappointed. The plot rolls on with several twists and turns to a nicely packaged ending that presents a mild surprise. Sevigney is great as the Lolita like step daughter. She plays her role on the edge and steals every scene she is in. The direction by Volker Schlondorff provides standard fair and keeps the action moving at a fair pace.

The Palmetto DVD is short on extra features. Too bad, I would have been interested in a director's commentary. The sound is fairly good. The rear speakers are a bit under used but the 5.1 sound field does add to a certain feeling of realism. The video transfer is flawless, crisp and clear with a full 1:2.35 aspect ratio.

If you enjoy 'B' film noir (there are many of you out there, admit it) then get Palmetto. If you are looking for a classic look elsewhere.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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