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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Fedora (1978)



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This Billy Wilder film opens with a death. Afterward, we flash back to the story that leads up to it: that of William Holden and an aging screen star whose sanity is in doubt. It is merciless in its expose of the inhumanity of the Hollywood star system.

So far, I could be describing Sunset Boulevard, right? It and Fedora go in different directions after the initial set-up, though they do explore many of the same themes. The similarities are regrettable, because Fedora suffers by comparison. Then again, how many films wouldn't? Fedora is ungainly and predictable but has its own pleasures and moods. Intriguingly, some very dark scenes occur in places overflowing with bright colors: cascades of flowers, for example, or the wide-open blue expanse of the seaside.