Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder – Movie Review Example
Sunset Boulevard: A Critical Review Directed by Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 film revolving around a once-successful silent film actress, Norma Desmond. In an attempt to make a comeback into the film industry, Norma hires a screenwriter Joe Gillis to write a script for her comeback film. The plot mainly revolves around Norma’s delusions as she refuses to accept the fact that her heydays are gone and she has been forgotten. The plot of the film adds an impact to the story and works well in displaying the dark side of fame, zenith, and popularity associated with the film industry. The characterization and filmmaking works coherently with the plot to reflect the underside of the film industry, which extends beyond the apparent glamour. The film successfully shows a lesser-known aspect of stardom which involves delusions, depression, and denial. Overall, the film works extremely well, in terms of plot, characterization, and filmmaking, to depict the less favorable aspect of stardom and the film industry.
The plot of the film addressed the challenges faced by celebrities as their fame starts washing away and they have to accept their lost stardom. Apart from this, the plot explored themes such as passion, unwillingness to accept reality, depression, and denial. Norma is a long-forgotten actress who was a successful star of her times. However her unwillingness to accept reality becomes problematic for her as she tries to cope with her depression; Norma’s character continuously struggles to accept the fact that she has been forgotten. The plot also worked well to represent the theme of passion from Max’s affection for Norma to Norma’s insane love for Joe and the infatuation between Joe and Betty. The plot worked wonderfully to depict the complexity between varied situations including love, denial, and fanaticism as Norma tries to cope with her decline and Joe tries to make a career while being tested by his circumstances. So, the plot worked well in communicating the idea.
The characterization also supported the plot and worked coherently to create an impactful film. The characters including that of Joe, Norma, and Max were complex yet powerful. In fact, Norma’s character took a central place in the story with her slightly deranged and grandiose persona. The unbalanced mental state of mind which is depicted through Norma’s character is significant to the film as it engendered the essence of passion, unhinged delusion, and denial. At the same time Max’s characterization was also remarkable as he played the man whose inability to live without Norma takes him beyond the limit where he quits his job to be Norma’s servant just to stay close to her. Therefore, the characterization also worked well as it was consistent with the plot and effectively depicted each character’s complex personality.
The filmmaking is the most instrumental part about the film as it uses a non-linear narrative form that displays the events in a reverse chronological format. The film begins with Joe’s death – his body floating over the swimming pool as the police arrives at Norma’s mansion. Then the story unfolds as Joe himself narrates the story behind his death. The film therefore uses narrative form where Joe narrates the events that lead up to his own death. The film also ends with Joe’s death. Hence, the film regularly uses voice over narration by Joe and flashes back. The film concludes with an engaging end as Norma is detached from reality and keeps thinking that the situation is a set-up for her film. For this reason, the filmmaking holds immense importance in creating an impact on the audience as it helps builds up interest as to Joe’s cause of death.
To sum up, all three aspects of the film including plot, characterization, and filmmaking worked cohesively and effectively to depict the less favorable side of fame and stardom. The plot and the storyline explored complex themes – such as passion, denial, and depression – that are seldom addressed in films. The characters also depicted their eerie personalities very well as each of the characters held a certain peculiarity, particularly Norma and Max. Finally the filmmaking including the usage of flashbacks and voice over narratives added an impact to the storyline. The choice to start the film in a non-linear format built interest and engaged the audience to discover about Joe’s cause of death. Therefore, all three elements including the plot, characterization, and filmmaking were in harmony as they demonstrated the underside of stardom beyond which what many people think. Hence, the unconventional plot, uncanny characterization, and engaging filmmaking worked well to create the film successful.
Sunset Boulevard. Australia: Billy Wilder, 1950. film.