(2008)2.5Josh Ralske"A bullet's kiss is a cold way to meet betrayal." Thus begins Dark Streets, and that line, spoken in a bluesy rasp by Prince (Toledo), the film's narrator, and the dark slow-motion imagery that accompanies it, sets the tone for Dark Streets, director Rachel Samuels' hyper-stylized musical-noir pastiche. DP Sharone Meir's images are blurred at the edges, as though they were shot through a veil of smoke and Vaseline. Samuels successfully sets a mood, surrounding her main character, Chaz Davenport (Gabriel Mann), with a rogue's gallery of underhanded oddballs and dangerous women. Toledo, as one of the performers at Chaz's nightclub, gives a fresh and charismatic performance, while Elias Koteas delivers an interesting new twist on the menacing weirdo role he's perfected in films like Crash and Exotica. Bijou Phillips (playing Crystal, another performer) is surprisingly adept, particularly in her slinky musical numbers. The musical aspects of the film generally work well -- no small feat from a relatively inexperienced director approaching the genre for the first time -- and the soundtrack, featuring great New Orleans-based performers like Dr. John, Solomon Burke, and Aaron Neville, helps to further establish the film's sultry mood. Mann is an appealing actor, but he seems a bit boyish for this role. All the flash and style that Samuels musters makes the film fairly engrossing, but the script, with its convoluted but predictable plot and its clunky dialogue, can't match the film's visual and musical force. While it's acceptable stylization for the images to be blurry around the edges, the script needs to be sharper.