May 5, 1996 -- "Mulholland Falls" is a movie that achieves its considerable impact from fine acting, good photography, period music and great art design. The screenplay, unfortunately, isn't up to par with the rest of the film. If it had been, the film could have been an Oscar contender.
The film is carried mainly by the performances of Nick Nolte as Los Angeles Police Detective Hoover and Chazz Palminteri as his partner, Coolidge. Melanie Griffith turns in a surprisingly good performance as Hoover's wife.
The plot revolves around an investigation of the murder of a beautiful woman named Allison Pond (Jennifer Connelly, who appeared in "The Rocketeer"). Hoover had once been romantically involved with Pond. The investigation leads Hoover, Coolidge and the other members of the "Hat Squad" on the trail of a high-ranking Army general, played by the talented John Malkovich.
The story begins to take on an "X-Files" flavor when the FBI and the military start their bloody coverups. It is the Nolte's Raymond Chandler flair of tough-gritty detective that keeps the story from falling apart.
The film is beautifully photographed by award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler and is well-directed by Lee Tamahori. The costume design, by Ellen Mirojnick and the art direction really take us back to the 1950s (those of us who are old enough to remember those times).
The writing, by Pete Dexter, does wander and if Hoover was as smart as he was supposed to be, he should have known how Pond was killed very early in the investigation. The movie is very violent and there are some sexually explicit scenes in the film as well. It rates a B.
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