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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder, 1950 (NR)

with William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, Jack Webb

Running from debt collectors, screenwriter Joe Gillis stumbles upon the crumbling mansion of former silent-film star Norma Desmond. As he begins penning a comeback screenplay for her, their professional relationship evolves into something more.
Duration: 110 minutes

"I am big, It's the pictures that got small!" What a quote, and many other brilliant ones punctuate a movie that really marked the end of an era. Hollywood studios, the decaying mansion of a fallen star, these are the two main set of the movie, between fake and isolation. It is a dark dark movie... but it wouldn't be as dark if it weren't for Gloria Swanson's mad character, and Erich von Stroheim's stoicism, dryness and impeccable attitude. I felt more and more awkward, uncomfortable, filled with the perspective of the young screenwriter, in a brilliant manipulation that the movie creates. Yes, because the movie starts with the end with quite some sense of humor, from the death of Joe Gillis, we already know the outcome. But the final act is not the disturbing one, this is actually the one moment we are the most used to in love drama. It is the whole situation in between, the confinement in luxurious heaviness, the longing and solitude, the slow but steady trap closing around the characters. Very disturbing.
I was also told, and I mention it because my ignorance did not allow me to notice it, that it was one of the first movies depicting a man who was attracted by the money of an older woman, living by her means and used as an object of desire.
Anyway, a classic.

Watch Trailer:


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