DocEdge 19 | Sunset Over Mulholland Drive

The opening credits roll in a style most reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood …

With a sweeping musical score, elaborate car chases and italic typeface across the screen that pays homage to it’s stars – ‘Sunset over Mulholland Drive’ does not leave much to question, as to the entertaining subject of this film.

At the corner of Spielberg Drive and up through Mulholland, a tour guide takes his passengers, regaling them with stories from a bygone era; of talent agents and big names in the motion picture industry.  This particular retiring haven has been home to a wealth of talent of the octogenarian age since it was founded 95 years ago.

Sunset over Mulholland Drive, covers a time lapse between a budding group of writers and their personal pilgrimage; sharing their philosophies and purpose for writing.  The classic film ‘Casablanca’ becomes the focal point for this creative writing group, as the residents explore the themes surrounding the film and the paths it’s protaganists; Rick, Elsa and Victor, ultimately choose to take.  The characters in the film; somehow providing an idyllic parallel to themselves throughout their patterned lives ….

The wealth of talent residing within the comfortable confines of this leafy suburb are incredible: Connie Sawyer, a longtime actress, paints colourful and youthful snapshots, through anecdotes of an erstwhile age. From her starry-eyed beginnings in Vaudeville, to the big screen. Tony Lawrence, original ‘Hawaii 5’0 – producer and writer, living in the shadow of Elvis’s twin brother, also makes an appearance.

Cut to a humorous repartee between long-married couple Deborah (a psychotherapist) and Joel (a former producer), as they share an amusing story of a dubious producer she once dated, with comical interjections from her husband and details from their latest creative collaboration, ‘How to stay married without killing each other’, this documentary is both whimsical and endearing

Daniel Selznick, son of Oscar winning producer David O Selznick (Gone with the Wind) and grandson of Hollywood’s honcho of cinema, Louis B Mayer (founder of MGM) is one of the newer residents and has himself, earned his own star on Hollywood’s walk of fame (figuratively speaking) through his contribution to the production of ‘American Graffiti’ – one of the highest grossing films of all time.

We are also privy to the dreams of veteran actor Wright King (A Streetcar Named Desire) whose role in the film earns him the status of screen siren Vivien Leigh’s one-time love interest.

Sunset Over Mulholland is witty, uplifting and inspirational.  A very touching and tender documentary that skillfully uses imagery and physical vehicles of life (such as classic cars) as a throwback to a golden and much romanticized era.  Even George Clooney makes an appearance, as part-benefactor of this haven, founded for these important players in Hollywood cinematic history.

Sunset over Mulholland successfully provides us with intimate insights from it’s residents, it also shows us that these veterans have no desire in slowing down just yet.  Dena Dietrich, one actress in particular is still going strong, and has more spunk than those half her age!

And what would Hollywood be without classic love story?  Sunset over Mulholland also features the amorous romance between Tony (producer/writer) and Maddie (actress) beginning in of all places, a retirement setting. Age proving no barrier for this aspiring group of artists.

The classic tune ‘As time goes by’ aptly plays in the background of the theatre, while the audience are all seated,  transfixed to the screen as the projector screen rolls on, reminiscing of those that have gone before …

Once a lifestyle full of silver screens and red carpet, it is now all mobility scooters and guide dogs.  Yet this film is far from a tragedy, but a beautiful and enduring love story,  as the couple Joel and Deborah demonstrate in the final scenes.  Couple goals are eternally fulfilled, and in turn, this becomes a documentary that goes beyond heartwarming.

The film reel rolls on … across the back screen of the car as it cruises across Mulholland drive …  The very fitting choice of film title becomes even more apparent, and timeless.

****4 Stars!

Sunset Over Mulholland Drive (2018)  –   Director: Uli Gaulke      Country: Germany       Running Time:97 mins

~ Showing times:

AKL:  Mon 3rd June, Thurs 6th June, Sat 8th June @Q Theatre                                                                                      WGN:  Thurs 13th & Sat 15th June @Roxy Cinema