When the discussion of acting icons through the history of the moving image comes around at any table, more often than not, the icon that was Marlon Brando tends to be at or near the top of anyone’s discussion. However, he was a tortured soul and in his own words with Listen To Me Marlon we get the unequivocally definitive look at the life of the man.
A recluse, an icon and unquestionable pain in the ass when he wanted to be, Marlon Brando in no matter what role he played had a very keen sense of his image in the public eye. However not everything ever went to plan and now via access through hundreds of hours of audio archives we get to piece together a very unique picture. We examine all of his complexities and insecurities through his very own words as we piece together a truly genuine portrait of the how fragile a genius the man truly was.
With this film, director Stevan Riley has taken the tired formula of the bio documentary and turned it on its ear as Listen To Me Marlon is a visually engaging and fascinating affair that lets such a private man, tell his own story.
Rather than the tired formula, we get a fresh and sly piece of storytelling that allows us to immediately connect with the subject on a uniquely personal level. Riley doesn’t shy away from the man’s insecurities and takes territory that historically tends to be fluffy and pointless and makes it into something poignant and completely fascinating. The man was responsible for his rise and his ultimate downfall all at the same time and Riley makes it all kind of a beautiful thing to watch in spite of some of the genuinely sad and tragic moments. He allows it all to be torn down and laid bare which makes it such a complex and amazing experience as we track the highs and lows of the man’s career.
At the end of the day, Listen To Me Marlon is a rare piece of cinema that is firmly ensconced in the landscape as not only one of the year’s best film, but perhaps the best ever look at a man who so embraced the stage but shunned the public light all at the same time.