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Peter Del Monte
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Victoria "V.I" Warshawski is a Chicago based private detective who agrees to babysit for her new boyfriend; then he is murdered. Being the detective type, she makes the murder her next case. In doing so she befriends the victim's daughter, Kat, and together they set out to crack the case. Written by
Among other changes, producers wanted to set the film in Baltimore and cast either Amy Madigan, Bette Midler or Jane Fonda as Warshawski. Paretsky, however, was thrilled with the selection of Kathleen Turner. See more »
At the scene of the tugboat explosion, the fire engine is solid red. Chicago fire engines are painted a distinct black over red design. See more »
V.I. Warshawski is essentially a macho film with the exception of the sex of the lead character. Kathleen Turner portrays the titular character, a tough-talking and independent Chicago private detective. Not only does she solve a case in the film, she gets herself into a lot of violent confrontations as well, from people who constantly want to foil her investigative findings concerning the inheritance of a shipping industry. Incredibly, Turner is able to stand toe-to-toe with her male counterparts. She is impressively gruff, tough, seasoned, and weary.
There are good and bad elements in the film. As written, the characters' mannerisms and dialogues are too mannered, cute, and artificial. Everyone seems to be wisecracking, yelling, and acting tough all the time. I know that's a common fixture of characters of the detective genre, but it's just too much and too insincere. Some of the characters are quirky but they aren't three-dimensional. There's no shortage of stock, sleazy, and mean spirited characters. I don't care deeply for the characters. They are merely pawns and not fully fleshed out. The film is heavy on dialogue and plot but it could have benefited from more heartfelt and intimate moments, such as exploring the characters' relationships with one another and exploring the inner depths of characters. We rarely glimpse beneath the characters' tough superficial layer and wisecracks. At times, the dialogue is stilted and awkward. There are a lot of feeble attempts at humor and one liners that are quite crude, lame, and inappropriate. The mystery isn't as intriguing or sophisticated as it should be. It's easy to figure out where the story is going as there aren't much surprises. The villains aren't very threatening either. By the end of the film, I still have questions that are left unanswered. I do however, enjoy Turner's gradual rapport with Kat (the young actress overplays the part though), the daughter of a murdered hockey player and who seems to be the key to solving the mystery.
At times, the film does display a quirky sense of humor that works, as evident in certain jokes and sight gags. There are also some interesting and high energy set pieces. However, some of these scenes detract from the main plot and have a juvenile mentality to them.
Whereas other films have been successful and intriguing in their takes on the film noir and detective genre (e.g. Night Moves, Chinatown), V.I. Warshawski is not inspired.
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