Noir never goes out of style. For a century, it has defined an American ethos in which goodness most often remains unrewarded and justice is capricious if it is served at all. It’s a vernacular art, framed by the voices of the losers and those who stand outside the law. This is only as it should be, for the genre was never meant to stick around. Noir was originally published in pulp magazines or as dime-store paperback originals, and its longevity is a testament to its tenacity—everyone’s most necessary survival skill.
To live, after all, is to know the deck is stacked against you. To live is to understand that you and those you love will suffer and that one day everyone will die. Noir doesn’t sugarcoat this or tell us pretty lies and stories. Noir reflects our condition unadorned. Its stories are bleak and elemental; they speak to us because we recognize ourselves in them. Especially in a moment such as this one, when we are all living, in one way or another, on the edge of oblivion, could any genre or worldview resonate more deeply or be more appropriate and profound?