By Mark Fields
Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe (along with his equally iconic Sam Spade) captures the essence of the 1940s hard-boiled detective. Honorable but world-weary Marlowe has been portrayed in film noir classics by Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliot Gould, and now in a 2023 iteration, Liam Neeson. Marlowe, which also stars Diane Kruger and Jessica Lange as a dangerous daughter-mother duo, is based on a 2014 novel inspired by the work of Chandler, The Black-Eyed Blonde. The film successfully evokes the characteristics of noir that showcased these familiar and densely-plotted detective stories. If anything, it is a bit too faithful to recognizable noir tropes. But the frisson of a thoroughly corrupt and unknowable Los Angeles underworld is disappointedly absent here, as is any real commitment to the story from the performers or the director, Neill Jordan, The result is a sadly pale imitation of an evocative subgenre, femmes but no fatale.