It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Dark Streets" is the kind of film you can appreciate as an object, but not as a story. It's a lovingly souped-up incarnation of the film-noir look, contains well-staged and performed musical numbers, and has a lot of cigarettes, tough tootsies, bad guys and shadows. What it doesn't have is a story that pulls us along, or a hero who seems as compelling as some of the supporting characters.
The hero is Chaz (Gabriel Mann), who has inherited a nightclub from his secretive father, who was a power magnate. Night after night, he sits in the club, smoking and regarding his stage shows. Too many nights after nights. The most noticeable thing about Chaz is his pencil-thin mustache. OK, so it's the 1930s, and actors like William Powell and Clark Gable had mustaches like that and played good guys, but somehow don't you associate the style more with snaky villains and riverboat gamblers? A very young man wearing such a mustache is trying to tell us something we don't want to know.
Chaz's club feels more like a set than a business. The whole film feels that way: As if the sets, actors and dialogue are self-consciously posing as classic film noir instead of sinking into the element. Look at a film like "Dark City," which is obviously made of sets but feels like noir to its very bones. Here, the moment Bijou Phillips and Izabella Miko appear on the screen, they exude: I'm the dame in a movie nightclub!
That's not to say they're not good. In fact, they're surprisingly good, especially in the club's jazz-based production numbers, where they sing and dance and are sultry and entertaining. It's wrong of me, but I'm always a little startled when someone like Bijou or Paris Hilton turns out to be talented, because it's wrong that's not what they're famous for.
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