This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Nick J’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Huh, so old people complaining about how newer movies are nowhere near as good as the older ones isn't all that new. Ok, boomer...err...get lost greatest generation? Man being Letterboxd funny is hard, how do you people do it?
Anyways, yes, of course I'm going to love a film about three deeply disturbed broken people sharing the same house surrounded by Hollywood glitz and glamour. Isn't that what that "Big Brother" show is or whatever? I don't watch much reality TV besides "Cops." Parasitic people can be fascinating when great writing is behind it and this film passes the test with flying colors. Norma Desmond, in a great performance by Gloria Swanson, is obsessed to the point of madness with her career on the silver screen as the only other people around her, down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis and guilt-ridden director-turned-husband-turned-butler Max von Mayerling, are willing to pity her and give into her insatiable ego. It's a fascinating (and still relevant) look at toxic relationships within the frame of fading Hollywood stardom, a degree of sympathy knowing how easily the film business can chew up and spit out anyone but wariness over her extreme behavior. William Holden is deceptively slimy as he tries to get his screenwriting career back on the rails and Rudol, err, I mean, Erich von Stroheim is a great straight man. There's a lot to love in this film: a semi-gothic architecture style reminiscent of old horror movies, metatextual dark comedy about the picture business, film noir style and dialogue, and a dramatic psychological character study that ends in a glorious fashion. One of the greatest final scenes in a film, both depressing and triumphant, makes you shake your head in disgust and your lip quiver in sadness. It is a great package of a film, and if the pacing was a little more forgiving and some of the acting not so stiff, I'd give it a full five. For now, just a bit chipped off, but that may change upon a revisit down the line.