Robert Crow’s review published on Letterboxd:
A meta film about Hollywood and filmmaking that (perhaps) invented the idea of meta filmmaking.
Joe is a hack B movie screenwriter who has finally run out of luck. With bounty hunter goons on his tail for the credit companies, he accidentally winds up in Silent Film era mega star, Norma Desmond’s, driveway. There she tasks him to write her magnum opus, her ultimate comeback film, but Joe finds that the price may be a little too high.
Oh man. There’s so many rabbit holes you can go down with this film trying to understand all its self-referential nods and multi-layered metaphysical representations of itself. So many lines referring to the plot, the actual film production, the history of film. Definitely rewards rewatches.
But to take the film as it is, I can’t say I ever got too into it.
It’s a masterpiece of writing, with Billy Wilder to thank, for sure. But giving us the ending at the beginning, the bleak gothic atmosphere of that mansion, and the insane performance of Gloria Swanson, I did not find this the most compelling.
My minds a little fried, as I was researching references as I was watching. This was fantastic, but I think I was expecting something more upbeat (more to the tune of The Apartment rather than Double Indemnity).
I went in blind, and I’m glad, because I could cherish this film for the greatness that it is. I’m just not convinced this is a GOAT. Of significant historical and cultural value, yes. Number 30 of the greatest pictures ever, not convinced.
I’ll be rewatching it some time though. For sure.
Recommended for Gloria Swanson (whose face, like Norma Desmond, is the most entrancing and compelling aspect of the film), just a black hole of Easter eggs of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and, my favorite part, my introduction to the amazing word: kaffeeklatsch. I will now proceed to use this word forevermore.