Sunset Blvd. (1950) is one of many films that was on my cinematic bucket list so I'm thrilled it was picked for this week's HMYBS. Of course everyone knows about the iconic last shot of the film, but we were instructed to not pick it.
"I'm ready for my close-up."
Here's the thing about the film though, it's all about getting a close-up look at Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and just what makes her tick. The simple answer of course is herself, her past glory and future comeback, I mean return, is all she can think about. She latches on to out-of-work screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) hoping to find in him something to revive her career. Instead, through him, we delve deep into Norma's self-psychosis with a literal magnifying glass...
Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma. There are plenty of scenes where director Billy Wilder highlights this inherent self-centeredness by bathing Norma in spotlight, putting her in front of mirrors, and lingering the film's frame on her super expressive face. But there's one shot that was so memorable in this respect, because it really shows Norma at her most narcissistic.
Look at Norma just lounging in her sofa surrounded by a multitude of Normas looking every which way, including straight at us, the audience. We can't help but keep looking at her and that's exactly what she wants, needs. She just wants to be watched.