Sunset Boulevard ★★★★★

Billy Wilder's magnificent film remains one of the best ever made about the dark side of fame and celebrity. A masterful depiction of two people at opposite ends of the Hollywood industry; the faded movie star and the desperate writer, using their manipulative relationship to examine the superficiality of stardom and how destructively it warps self-identity. Its combination of noir, satire and ghostly psychological drama is flawless; somehow managing to be creepy, witty, scathing, bleak and tragic without any of it feeling unnatural. Gloria Swanson is outstanding as her theatrical turn superbly captures someone who thinks they're still the centre of the universe, both frightening and oddly sympathetic. William Holden is also excellent as he finds the ideal balance of sardonic charm and internal conflict, while strong support is provided by Erich von Stroheim and Nancy Olson.

Everything else is exemplary; Wilder's direction is impeccably measured, the dialogue is sensational, the narration flows smoothly, the setting is terrifically evocative, the meta references are clever and the ending scene is simply perfect. A true masterpiece.

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