Film Review: Listen To Me Marlon

Listen To Me Marlon - courtesy of ALAMY

Using previously unheard recordings, Stevan Riley’s Listen To Me Marlon is an engaging portrayal of a revered actor.

Listen To Me Marlon charts famed actor Marlon Brando, from ordinary beginnings to Oscar-winning actor. Looking at his career, interests and personal life, the documentary paints an intimate picture of the actor…

In Listen To Me Marlon, a patchwork of recordings and interviews are pulled together to weave a biographical narrative. Director Stevan Riley uses the recordings to offer an account of Marlon Brando from the actor himself. Of course, this is not actually the case, given that the footage and recordings to create a particular narrative. The film paints Brando as immensely talented yet uneasy soul, with an emphasis on childhood difficulty as the root of later troubles.

The narrative of Listen To Me Marlon works well to highlight the best aspects of Brando’s personality. These include his concern for civil rights and highlighting inequalities. The less appealing elements, such his difficulties on set, receive a gloss coat. These aspects are not ignored, but there is an attempt to explain them on a difficult childhood and a growing despondence with the movie business.

The most fascinating aspect of Listen To Me Marlon is Brando’s thoughts on acting. Riley paints the protagonist as going on a journey, but it is unclear if this was actually the case. What is indisputable is a latter jadedness with the process of movie making. Early clips showing Brando talking about method acting show his passion, which is very interesting to watch.

Brando’s family life is discussed in relation to the impact this had on his personality and career. Listen To Me Marlon is not a straightforward documentary. The opening clip functions to depict Brando’s foresight on the future of acting in films. Riley recognises the prescience of this prediction.

Listen To Me Marlon paints a positive picture of Marlon Brando, who was undoubtedly a captivating character. Those more familiar with his performances than his life off-screen life will certainly learn something.

Listen To Me Marlon is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2015. The film will be released in cinemas on 23rd October, on digital on 9th November, and on DVD and Blu-Ray on 30th November 2015.