Erin Richter
April 05, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Devil in a Blue Dress

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
102 minutes
performer
Jennifer Beals, Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Tom Sizemore
director
Carl Franklin
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Drama

We gave it a C

The only real mystery in Devil in a Blue Dress, a period piece from director Carl Franklin (who made the acclaimed One False Move) is figuring out what kind of movie he intended it to be. In the late ’40s, Ezekiel ”Easy” Rawlins (a convincing Washington) just wants a quiet life and enough money to pay the mortgage on his L.A. home, but an unjust firing pushes him into snooping around in matters of murder and blackmail. Appropriately packed with simile-riddled narration, this gorgeously shot movie is too well lit to be noir, and with racism used only as a plot device, it fails as social commentary. Don Cheadle stands out as Rawlins’ comically psycho friend, but the movie ultimately becomes a pursuit of stereotypically shady characters with thin mustaches — and a methodical, boring one at that, which only becomes more apparent on the small screen.

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