LISTEN TO ME MARLON
Directed by Stevan Riley
We see biographical documentaries about celebrities all the time, but we have never seen anything like LISTEN TO ME MARLON. During Marlon Brando’s life, the actor recorded hundreds of hours of audiotapes. Some were reflections on his life and career, other were recordings of self-hypnosis. With the participation of Brando’s estate, director Stevan Riley uses these tapes to craft a film that provides an unparalleled experience. Riley places Brando’s voice over archival footage, as well as a facial reconstruction of Brando mouthing his words. Since Brando’s voice guides the film, it is as if Brando is telling his own story. This makes the film almost seem like an autobiography, rather than the standard bio.
Over the years stories have surfaced about Brando being an incredibly difficult actor to work with. This film finally gives Brando a say in these accusations. We see a deeply troubled man who has an extreme passion for his art. The film depicts Brando’s relationship with his abusive father and sheds a light on his relationship with his own children, in which he fought to be as different from his father as possible. In between Brando’s reflections, Riley uses clips from some of Brando’s most famous films such as THE GODFATHER, LAST TANGO IN PARIS, and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The mixing of Brando’s words and performances reminds audiences that they are not only watching one of the most talented actors of all time, but also a troubled genius. LISTEN TO ME MARLON is not only one of the best documentaries of the year, but is perhaps one of the best biographies ever filmed.