Adrien Brody is outstanding as the hard-luck, yet creative, investigative newspaper reporter always looking for the special scoop on human calamity. He meets his match with a femme-fatale, whose mysterious past holds the secrets to a complicated blackmail plot.
The best scenes are those between Brody's character Porter Wren and the emotionally fragile Caroline Crowley played dynamically by Yvonne Strahovski. There is good sizzle to their romantic encounter, as Porter gets deeper and deeper into a plot that involves a missing chip with compromising video footage of a business tycoon.
The greatest film noir movies were those that featured an innovative use of black-and-white filming. In this color film, there is nonetheless a thoughtful approach to the cinematography with fascinating location filming in New York City, plus dynamically lit interior scenes. In the bonus segment, director Brian DeCubellis described how every shot was carefully planned in advance, much in the tradition of an Alfred Hitchcock film. The behind-the-scenes segment also included Brody noting that the neo-noir films of the 1980s, including "Fatal Attraction" and "Body Heat," were the models for "Manhattan Night."
The main weakness of the film was the excessive violence and the truly bizarre relationship of Caroline Crowley and her former husband, a film director played by Campbell Scott. Scott's character appears in flashback sequences that go well beyond the bizarre into the deeply troubling and unpleasant.
In the classic film noir, there was always an ironic quality and even a moment or two of humor injected into the drama. In "Manhattan Night," there was a tentative attempt at the irony with a colorful character played by Linda Lavin. After catching Porter snooping around in her home, she sits him down for an outrageous conversation that ties up all the loose ends of the mystery!
Still, the mood of the film rarely escapes from the somber tone of deceit, ulterior motives, and eventual trauma experienced by all of the characters. This film is definitely not for the squeamish or family-film viewer.
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