Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.


I can’t go on with this scene, I’m too happy. Mr. DeMille do you mind if I say a few words? Thank you. I just want to tell you all how happy I am to be back in the studio making a picture again. You don’t know how much I’ve missed all of you. And I promise you I’ll never desert you again because after ‘Salome’ we’ll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life. It always will be. There’s nothing else. Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

This last scene really captures the genius of Billy Wilder's magnum opus. At first glance, Norma's exaggerated stance as she slowly walks toward to the camera could be seen as comical. Hell, the whole situation is comical! A faded actress kills her young writer boyfriend out of jealousy and fear, and is put in such a state of shock that she convinces herself she is on the set of a movie that she wrote. The situation is just so absurd.

However, in the context of the film, after spending two hours with these characters, seeing the functionality of Hollywood, this scene has became one of the most chilling I've ever seen. For days after my viewing, I had stayed thinking about Desmond, played superbly by Gloria Swanson in one of the best performances I have ever witnessed, slowly walking towards the camera, unable or unwilling to comprehend the situation. It's both existential and horrifying. Yet, I laughed when I originally viewed it.

That's the genius of Sunset Boulevard. Wilder lets you laugh at the situation and then be haunted by it. It is a fabulous use of meta; a blazing criticism of the film industry while also being one of the best things to come from it.

This might be my new favorite movie.

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