Box art for L.A. Confidential

L.A. Confidential

drama, thrillers

Three cops, a call girl, a mysterious millionaire, a tabloid journalist fuel a labyrinthine plot rife with mystery, ambition, romance and humor. With KEVIN SPACEY, RUSSEL CROWE and KIM BASINGER!

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5

Dense, tangled period cop drama for adults.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this isn't a thrill-ride cops-a-go-go actioner for kids. Laden with vicious homicide, numerous subplots and multiple characters, it depicts deep police-force corruption and entrenched brutality in law-enforcement. Even its "heroic" policemen are badly flawed, self-serving characters. One crusades chivalrously against assailants who batter women; yet he himself becomes one, out of sexual jealousy. Swear words flow thicker than the bloody wounds, and there is much talk of prostitution and sex.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the time period of the early 1950s, and the parallels between this script's scandal-sheet Hush-Hush with the real-life one called Confidential. Research crime/showbiz scandals of the time (the Web has the juicy details), about the Johnny Stompanato murder, and how Confidential magazine went too far. Are popular gossip Web sites such as just as bad today or not?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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  • Audience


Audience Reviews

3 stars

It takes a full hour for L.A. Confidential to delve into its mystery, an interesting and noir-tastic one, so for the entire preceding hour, it's mostly unconnected and meandering build-up told with an admittedly tight script, but a bland visual style. Cool and entertaining. But one of the best American films of all time? Hush-hush.

- fb100001581602053, Thursday, June 7, 2012

5 stars

James Ellroy is one of the finest of hard-boiled crime writers. For those not familiar, check out his "L.A. Quartet"; four novels, that delve into the seedy and corrupt world of the Los Angeles police force in the 1950's. This film is actually based on the third novel in the series and director/screenwriters Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland have done a marvellous job in adapting Ellroy's convoluted narratives and staccato writing. L.A. in the 50's is rife with organised crime and corruption in the police force. Both intertwine in the glitz and glamour of the booming Hollywood movie business. The story follows the path of three very different police detectives. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) - the suave and ambitious type with an eye on stardom for himself. Bud White (Russel Crowe) - the brutal strong arm who will do anything to achieve his form of justice and rookie Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) - who does everything by the book and believes in law and order. A late night shooting in a coffee shop, which leaves one policeman dead brings these three detectives together in an elaborate plot involving corrupt politicians, prostitutes made to look like movie stars, gangster Mickey Cohen and sleazy tabloid journalists. First of all, where this film succeeds - in it's difficult adaptation - is capturing the mood and setting. Not since Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" in 1972 has this been achieved. The music by Jerry Goldsmith taps into the seedy film noir jazz while Dante Spinotti's rich cinematography perfectly captures the infancy of the city of Los Angeles, before it's economical boom. It was a city that could make or break a person, with corruption at every corner. This rich attention to detail, is also captured by some outstanding performances. Kim Basinger won a supporting actress award but it's Spacey, Pearce and particularly Crowe that own this film. Their performances have seldom been better. The story itself can simply be described as labyrinthine. There are so many facets that's it's hard to keep up. It demands your attention and commitment but it also rewards. Credit must go to Curtis Hanson, who does an excellent job in handling all the narrative arcs and teasingly fitting all the pieces together. This is filmmaking of the very highest standard. An absolutely enthralling film, that's so vivid and compelling that fans of the genre should not ignore.

- MrMarakai, Saturday, March 10, 2012

3 stars

What twists and turns! I kinda like how the third act is one big, dramatically-ironic goose chase, yet the filmmakers don't rush the characters' revelations. One problem I do have is that no one ever seems to close their shades. You'd think if you were schtupping a hooker or snorting some blow, you'd have the common sense to not position yourself right in front of an open window.

- aliceinpunderland, Saturday, December 24, 2011