Sin City – Beautifully Ugly

Sin City – Beautifully Ugly

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  1. Violence.  Corruption.  Sinners.  That’s Sin City, the 2005 film directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez with special guest director Quentin Tarantino.  It is based on the graphic novels written by Frank Miller.  While "graphic novel" doesn’t really mean "graphic" as in filled with violence, bad language, and nudity; in this film it can be taken that way.  It may be a graphic, sometimes disturbing film, but it is a well made film picking up 20 awards from various sources and making it to number 134 on’s top 250 movies of all time.

    What is it about?

    Sin City is actually three stories rolled loosely together into one big, nasty narrative.

    The first is about an aging cop named Hartigan (Bruce Willis).  He saves an 11-year-old girl named Nancy (Makenzie Vega) from a child molester, Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl) whose dad is high up in the government.  Hartigan miraculously survives and is charged for raping Nancy.  After serving 8 years in solitary confinement with nothing but Nancy’s letters to keep him sane, he gets out and finds the now 19-year-old Nancy (Jessica Alba) who is a stripper.  Unbeknownst to him, though, he leads Roark Jr. right to Nancy.  Roark Jr. tries to settle the score, but Hartigan has other plans.

    The second story is about Marv (Mickey Rourke) who spends the night with a hooker named Goldie.  She gets murdered by Kevin (Elijah Wood) while Marv sleeps right beside her.  Because "she was nice to him," Marv tries to avenge her death.  Marv turns out to be nearly impossible to kill as he gets beat up, shot, and more during his murderous rampage which includes a lot of torturing of people.  With the help of his parole officer (Carla Gugino), Goldie’s twin sister, and others, he eventually faces off with Kevin in an attempt to avenge the death of a whore that he barely knows.

    The third story is about Dwight (Clive Owen) and his attempt to save Old Town.  Old Town is a particularly rough part of Sin City that is run by hookers who administer their own brand of justice.  When Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) goes into Old Town with his crew and causes trouble, the hookers, led by Gail (Rosario Dawson), end up killing him… then they find out he’s a cop.  That promptly ends their ability to run Old Town their way, so Dwight and the hookers have to fight for their lives to save Old Town.

    Is it any good?

    Sin City is a brutal film that berates you with violence and appalling behavior from almost every character.  People stab others in the back (literally and figuratively), they cut peoples’ body parts off, torture people, etc.  If you can get past that, then the story is actually pretty intriguing.  It’s a little surprising that you can connect with these characters, but they all have certain traits that make you want them to succeed.  Hartigan will do anything to save Nancy; Marv hates men who beat up on women; and Dwight defends his love for Gail.

    The stellar acting and amazing look of the film help you get past the gruesomeness as well.  There are too many great performances to mention them all, but the standouts are Rosario Dawson and Benicio Del Toro.  Especially after Benicio Del Toro’s character is dead, he gives a terrifyingly hilarious performance in some strange-but-interesting exchanges with Clive Owen’s character.  The look of the film is what really makes it stand out, though.  It is mostly black and white with splashes of color here and there.  The most common color to show up is red… in the blood.  But sometimes the blood is white and looks more like paint than blood.  The look captures the graphic novel feel while being vastly different from any film you have ever seen.

    Nolan’s Grade:  B+

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