Marlowe Parent Guide
This gritty detective story leans hard on traditional film noir genre tropes and delivers an intriguing, violent story.
Parent Movie Review
From his office windows, private investigator Phillip Marlowe (Liam Neeson) has a warm view of the sun-soaked streets of Los Angeles, but he can’t see what’s coming next. Today, it’s a sultry blonde who refers to herself by her surname, Cavendish (Diane Kruger). She wants Marlowe to track down her itinerant lover Nico (Francois Arnaud), who has disappeared under unusual circumstances. Cavendish doesn’t believe he’s dead because she’s seen him recently on the streets, but the police insist that Nico Peterson has been officially declared dead after being struck and killed by a car outside the ritzy country club to which both Cavendish and her husband belong.
The country club is extremely exclusive so Marlowe is going to have to come at the case from an oblique angle. He soon learns that the strange happenings at the club are only the tip of a very dangerous iceberg, one built on drug running, adultery, and murder. This kind of peril was once just another day at the office for Marlowe, but the older he gets, the harder it is to keep one eye on his work and one on his back.
I love the aesthetic of a grimy hardboiled detective story - the rainy streets, the classic suits and cars, the jazzy sax in the background – it’s a great palette to play with. Marlowe has gone in a slightly different direction by having almost all the action happen in broad daylight, and while I miss the visual darkness, the film retains the moral turpitude that puts the “noir” in film noir. Marlowe, of course, is Raymond Chandler’s prototypical gumshoe, and the film has everything else you need for the genre, including a femme fatale and a helpful detective. It also depicts the casual racism of the 40’s, which is certainly a realistic aspect of the period, but one which might make this film an unpleasant experience for some audiences.
This gritty detective drama is, of course, a poor choice for young viewers, given its bloody violence, coarse language, and heavy drinking. And that’s before you get to the drug smuggling and cocaine use. For adult genre fans with a high tolerance for swearing and blood, this is a fun little adventure in a familiar universe, filled with corruption and crime around every corner. You’re not going to find many innovations to the formula, though. While it capably recreates the tropes of the genre, Marlowe isn’t particularly interested in taking these characters or stories in new directions, and I can’t fault it for wanting to be true to the classics. That being the case, I almost wish they’d released it in black and white – it worked for Mank, didn’t it? Even in color, this is a fun film, provided you can forgive Liam Neeson for not being Humphrey Bogart.Directed by Neil Jordan. Starring Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, Jessica Lange. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release February 15, 2023. Updated January 22, 2024
Rating & Content Info
Why is Marlowe rated R? Marlowe is rated R by the MPAA for language, violent content, some sexual material and brief drug use.
Violence: Several people are shot and killed. A man’s head is run over by a car and crushed. A person is beaten and tortured for information. Several corpses are seen, one of which is on fire. There is a non-graphic reference to sexual assault.
Sexual Content: There are several sexual innuendoes. There is a brief reference to sexual assault. There are references to and depictions of striptease and prostitution, although no nudity is seen.
Profanity: There are 19 sexual expletives, half a dozen scatological profanities, and infrequent use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are frequently seen drinking and smoking tobacco, as was common at the time. A character is seen using cocaine, and there are references to drug trafficking and heroin use.
Page last updated January 22, 2024
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Other examples of film noir include classics like The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, The Third Man, Double Indemnity, and Vertigo. Modern takes on the genre include Chinatown, L.A. Confidential, Motherless Brooklyn, or cross-genre movies like Blade Runneror Shutter Island.