MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Listen To Me Marlon’ Is The Must-See Doc Of 2015

listen-to-me-marlon-review

Film: Listen To Me Marlon
Starring: Marlon Brando
Directed by: Stevan Riley

I have never in my life experienced a film as magically, yet meticulously put together as Listen To Me Marlon. It’s a game-changing documentary in a year filled with incredible documentaries, with a narrative that is deeply moving and utterly entrancing from the opening to the closing message.

Marlon Brando needs no introduction, but he has one to offer at the beginning of Listen To Me Marlon. The film–created by Stevan Riley–uses previously unseen footage and unheard personal recordings from Brando to tell the iconic star’s life story. It’s a collection of private reflections told by Brando himself, spoken to his tape recorder at various points throughout his life. We hear about his childhood, what drove him to acting, his method to success, the films that are now considered iconic in their own right and countless personal moments in between.

To witness Listen To Me Marlon is to sit and pour through Brando’s diary. It is quite literally his personal time capsule, recorded with a level of honesty and self-awareness most of us can only hope to convey in our own lives. There are moments it becomes clear the late actor knew someone would eventually hear the tapes, and when those points arise, Brando speaks to the listener as if they were an old friend. He tells of experience–both good and bad–then urges whoever can hear him to not let the fear of things not working out hold them back.

Both the visual and audio components of Listen To Me Marlon play like two intertwining tapestries that could only co-exist in the modern age of storytelling. The audio is compiled from what seems like dozens, if not hundreds of hours of private recordings, and the 100+ minutes of digital film is made up of countless home videos, television appearances, film clips and carefully chosen bits of archive footage that are equally and intricately woven together. It’s art no matter how you look at it, and every angle is fascinating in its own unique way.

While there is no doubt those with a pre-existing interest in Brando will have a deeper appreciation for the central narrative, every piece of Listen To Me Marlon warrants recommendation. By giving Brando the stage for self-expression he never felt he could have during his time on Earth, filmmaker Stevan Riley has honored one of the greatest talents of all time in a way that can never be duplicated. There is nothing more to say. This film is great.

GRADE: A

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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