Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

Sunset Boulevard is another masterpiece from Billy Wilder, but whereas Double Indemnity is an entertaining thrill ride, this feels more somber. It still maintains that sense of noir, with gorgeous black and white cinematography and a cynical nature, but it feels so much more honest and tragic. A lot of factors play into this, but nothing more so than the monolithic performance of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond. This ranks as easily one of the best examples of acting ever put to film. Going in, I had high expectations already, but was completely blown away by her ability to emote and to become this character. William Holden and Erich Von Stroheim give wonderful performances as well, but Swanson’s star shines the brightest. Wilder managed to outdo himself in both direction and screenwriting. As a movie about Hollywood, it’s maybe the most self-referential film I’ve ever seen, and it pulls no punches. For Wilder to accomplish something like this puts an astronomical effect on his legacy, putting him in rarefied air with the great directors of all time. I know I’m not the first to say any of this, but Sunset Boulevard deserves every inch of praise one can muster. It’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

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