Noir presents a world of corruption, greed, violence and betrayal. The problem tends to be that there is a lack of heroes. Everyone in Noir is tainted. Even when there is a sleuth trying to expose a wrongdoer, they are only on the case for what they can get out of it.
In L.A. Confidential we get three of these sorts—all cops. Jack Vincennes is enamored by the Hollywood glamour and the fame it provides him. Ed Exley is a bright young son of a department legend, trying to make his own name. Bud White is a rough and tough man more than a thinker and he has a soft spot for protecting women from abuse.
All three men get involved in the investigation of a mass murder. As is often the case in these sorts of tales, when someone tries to do the right thing, they pay for it. All three officers… Well, the real problem is, the deeper the investigation goes, the worse everyone comes out looking. The police, the city government, the whole town is one big cesspool.
The moral of the story might be, that in spite of all the good intentions and desires to do right one may have, without the virtues of good character to back up those intentions, the best plans go wrong. Bud White especially illustrates this point. His childhood experiences give him a strong desire to help women, but the way he helps them reflects a strong resemblance to his father’s predilection for violence. In Christian teaching we learn that no one is truly good enough on their own. Even the virtues must come from God.
(Warning: While there are positive thematic elements to be found in this movie, some NonModern readers may want to know that this movie earned it’s R rating and may offend some viewers.)