Screen On Screen
It’s not often that a disembodied voice becomes the crux of a non-fiction film, but Listen To Me Marlon is no ordinary documentary. The film is a surreal, intimate look at the iconic performer, with stories told through the use of interview clips, vintage footage and, most tellingly, a series of tapes that Brando made for himself as a kind of hypnotic therapy. These mesmerizing meanderings are at times banal and self-serving, at others raw and informing, balancing the same contradictions that shaped a man dubbed by many the actor of his generation.
From the pointilized laser-scan recreation of his taking form, the film takes us on a journey through Brando’s life. Far from a conventional biography, we’re given brief glimpses into both his roles and his personal triumphs and tragedies. His close connection to Polynesia, his complicated relationship with his own success, and especially the tumultuous events that surrounded his children are treated with both sensitivity and originality. The film is most effective when it gets behind the fodder for tabloids, delving into the raw emotions of the events.
Director/Writer/Editor Stephen Riley does a remarkable job at keeping the disparate pieces feeling as a whole, with single phrases sometimes sourced from disparate interviews, coalescing into single trains of thought. Listen to Me Marlon is both an introduction to the legend as well as a fitting tribute to an actor that gave such joy to generations of filmgoers.