Set in a dystopian metropolis bathed in shades of amber and blue, Rachel Samuels' retro-noir "Dark Streets" feels like a labor of love, the kind that blinds as well as inspires. The movie, drawn from Wallace King's adaptation of Glenn Stewart's play, drips with style, but it's all flourish and no reveal.
Gabriel Mann, who never manages to live up to his pencil mustache, plays the son of a murdered electricity tycoon, a lifelong wastrel who whiles away his dissolute nights at a swanky nightclub where Samuels stages dance numbers rife with Busby Berkeley borrowings.
When the lights go out -- which, thanks to plot elements incongruously lifted from the Enron scandal, they often do -- unsuspecting residents have their throats slit under the diffident eyes of Elias Koteas' creepy-crawly copper.
Samuels soups up her shots with blurry lenses and fun-house-mirror perspectives, but her extravagances are pure affectation, and King's overheated dialogue is full of groaning constructions that topple under their own weight. ("With darkness come nightmares that bring you face to face with the angel of death," et al.)
As a nightclub chanteuse with a yen for nose candy, Bijou Phillips has the plummest role, and she digs in for all she's worth, although her Billie Holiday impression is murder on the ears. Izabella Miko's angelic nightingale is bland where she should be brassy, as pretty and empty as the movie she inhabits.
Adams is a freelance writer.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun