Femme fatale Johansson thrills festival

Brian de Palma’s noir movie The Black Dahlia premiered at the 63rd Venice Film Festival to critical acclaim on Wednesday as its 21-year-old star, Scarlett Johansson, paraded down the red carpet.

The actor plays a femme fatale in the murder mystery set in 1940s Hollywood and film reviewers emerged from a preview screening acclaiming her on-screen sex appeal.

The film is an adaptation of the James Ellroy bestseller about the real-life unsolved murder of aspiring actor Elizabeth “Betty” Short, whose mutilated and dismembered body was discovered in a park in Los Angeles in 1947. Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart play detectives investigating the murder, while Johansson is the woman caught between them. Asked whether she would be a distraction, the actor, who starred in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring, said: “It’s nice to be considered sexy, as a young woman in my prime.
But I try not to think about the sexiness. And I never think about it being distracting from a scene.”

She said there were parallels between America in the 1940s and today, making reference to the recent case of John Karr, who claimed to have killed JonBenet Ramsey, the six-year-old beauty queen, but was released by police after DNA testing.

“I think generally, when there are periods of depression in a country, people distract themselves oftentimes with scandal,” she said. “We’ve seen it in the past and it’s sort of happening right now. There’s mass genocide going on and people are focused on bringing somebody over from Thailand for tests that may or may not prove something.”

De Palma was acclaimed for Scarface and The Untouchables, but his recent Femme Fatale did not get a United Kingdom cinema release.

  • The Black Dahlia is among 21 films competing for the Gold Lion, to be awarded on September 9.

- Guardian Unlimited Â

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