Modern Film Noir (I)

Why this Genre?

The Film Noir period dominated films made in Hollywood in the 1940s and the 1950s. However, even after the classic Film Noir trend came to an end, the characteristics of these films carried on and are still influencing directors today.

Some of the films that come out nowadays do not entirely belong to the Film Noir genre, but it is debated that several do have elements that were present in classic Film Noir movies.

The features that are most often used in modern Film Noir usually include either a downbeat or morally questionable hero, a femme fatale and a particular visual style.

While it is not always obvious, when looking into a film, one can sometimes see and pick out Film Noir aspects that defined the genre all those years ago.

For example, I can cite the 2011 film ‘Drive‘. From the first few minutes, it is clear that the film has got its own visual style and is not a classic crime movie. The nameless protagonist is mysterious, and ends up involved in criminal activities after developing a romantic relationship with his next door neighbour.

Another movie that takes on aspects of the classic Film Noir is the 2005 crime thriller ‘A History of Violence‘. The protagonist tries to escape a criminal past that eventually catches up to him and ends up threatening the new life he has built. Again, a morally questionable hero, criminal activities and a sense of despair can remind the audience of classic Film Noir. For example the 1955 ‘The Man with the Golden Arm‘ that features Frank Sinatra as a heroin addict who fights his addiction in prison but struggles with it once released into the real world.

There is also a possibility of including ‘Black Swan‘ to the list yet it is debatable. The whole visual aspect as well as a mentally unstable protagonist are key features of the genre. Mila Kunis’s performance as a femme fatale was spot on.

I can also site the ‘Sin City‘ movies that are both categorized as Neo-Noirs because of their striking visual identity, and the crime themes that they deal with. While the first instalment was released in 2005, the sequel ‘A Dame to Kill For‘ is more recent, dating back to 2014.

The list goes on but I should also mention the crime thriller ‘Nightcrawler‘ (2014).

Some TV shows also seem to feature aspects of Film Noir and can be seen as belonging to the Neo-Noir genre such as ‘House of Cards‘.



Campbell.C., 2014. 11 Modern Film Noir Movies You Must See. Fandango. [online]. 27th October. Available at: [accessed 2015]

Searle.T., 2012. 10 Outstanding Neo-Noirs of the 2000s. Listverse. [online]. 1st February. Available at: [accessed 2015]

Akande.Z., 2014. Why we have film noir to thank for ‘Twin Peaks’ and other hit TV dramas. Indiewire. [online] 27th December. Available at: [accessed 2015]


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