M S Krishna Prateek’s review published on Letterboxd:
"No one ever leaves a star." "That's what makes one a star."
So before 8½ and Nayak (The Hero), there was Sunset Boulevard! Remembering Billy Wilder on his 114th birth anniversary!
"We didn't need dialogue." "We had faces." - The "Silent Movie Queen" Norma Desmond living in Sunset BLVD in her room all satin and ruffles, believes that the sun will never set on her without even facing the sunlight because she was afraid of the world outside so much so that it would remind her that time had passed. The fear of being forgotten is easily the foremost among all the fears out there and Billy Wilder sheds light on this usually forgotten fear when it comes to what fears a human the most, by going the all meta way to show how even darker it gets in the case of film stars whose small moments of shine can light up so many faces so distant from them and what if we eventually forget the source of light while still absorbing all that is emitted from them on-screen? It's our/their apparent perception that "Stars are ageless" is what makes Sunset Boulevard age so well for eternity as the quintessential film-about-films.
The last 10 minutes of this film is probably my answer when you ask me what is the best horror film you have watched and that's really saying everything about the eyes of this lady who is forever not ready for a swansong aka Gloria Swanson's glorious eyes still basking in the after-glory of her star career that lost its sheen many years ago. Upon hearing "lights", her face got lit up in its entirety reflecting all the light she used to turn on as a star in the cosmic darkness at the dawn of silent cinema and never I have ever been this blinded by darkness in the guise of brightness. For me, the greatest horror has always been about unknowing the known rather than knowing the unknown and in this regard, like I don't know if I'm making sense or not, but Norma Desmond legit scared the living daylights out of me despite having the lights on while watching this film during the night time. I don't know about how bright a star performer she was in other films as this is my introduction to Gloria Swanson, but as far as her eyes are concerned, they might well and truly be the stars "greatest of them all" at which I'd never ever dare to take a "close-up"!
Alike Double Indemnity, "I wonder" how Billy Wilder opened his film with its supposed ending and still possessed the power to hook me till the very end with so many moments of melancholy harpooned in a sea (read pool) of seemingly happy emotions where I had to constantly decide on which wave do I need to ride on, the undulated waves of hope in Norma's fictional vision of reality or the cross-currents of hope and despair in our real vision of fictional industry she was in and guess what, I overflowed on both of them and found myself gasping for breath on returning to the shore, but I didn't know whether to feel happy for the fact that Norma was alive or to feel sad for finding myself dead already at the time of making the aforementioned decision and then narrating all this to you after my death.