Pheb’s review published on Letterboxd:
Okay imma be totally honest here, this was reeeaaally not what I was expecting at all, and I think it's because of those expectations that I was a bit underwhelmed. I thought this was gonna be more in line with something like Psycho, and it ended up being a totally different beast altogether. This was less of a taught thriller and more of a brooding romantic tragedy, and a very slow burn at that. That's not at all to say this was disappointing, I mean come on, this is a classic and it's beautifully crafted, just not something that's gonna stick with me as much as other films have. Gloria Swanson is absolutely mesmerizing as Norma Desmond and every second she was on screen I couldn't help but be completely engaged, but unfortunately she's not the main character here. I actually thought Joe Gillis was a bit of a boring protagonist- like, he kinda existed in the same way Nick Carroway exists in The Great Gatsby. We follow the plot through his eyes as the token outsider observing this incredibly strange, eccentric, and maybe even insane person. I never really found myself that interested in him, but who are we kidding, this is Swanson's show anyway. I thought the second act dragged a bit and I found myself questioning where exactly this was going, but things thankfully pick up a lot in the third act. All the commentary on post-silent era Hollywood was great too. There's really something to appreciate about how much sympathy this film is able to generate from the audience towards Norma, despite her being extremely mentally disturbed and psychotic. Like, I genuinely felt for her and almost understood where she was coming from in the scene at Paramount Studios, when it becomes clear that her career ended a long time ago. I mean, can you really blame her for being so narcissistic after having to live her whole life being the center of attention and the object of millions of fans' adoration? It makes total sense that she'd go absolutely bonkers and not know how to handle it when all that attention was suddenly taken away almost overnight. Anyway, good stuff here. Not one of my favorites, but definitely worth a watch.