Video Review: Shakespear’s Sister “Goodbye Cruel World”

In a cerulean lit bedroom, Jane (Siobhan) asks Norma Desmond (Marcella) if she’s only there for her money. Jane claims to have “millions in oil wells, pumping and pumping.” Norma stops filing her nails and tells her to shut up. Norma walks up to Jane, stating that she is the one who made her and she can end her career just as quickly. A muted Jane says she’s “trying to explain the way things really are.” She adds Norma wouldn’t be in control if she “wasn’t stuck behind the guitar.” Norma turns her head and said she was always stuck behind the guitar and intones a famous quote from Sunset Boulevard, saying “ok, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

The film reel loops on number nine. Marcella sits on the couch and watches a modern show, where she and Siobhan perform in sequined catsuits. On stage, Marcella, on places her finger on her chin, freezing her image into ice for a moment. Marcella runs her finger over lips as she sits on the couch.

On the bed, Norma talks to someone on the phone. Jane practices in front of the screen, raising her hands to the heavens. Norma hits the bed with her fist. She lies on the bed, her hand on her forehead. Jane touches the screen for inspiration.

Backstage, stylists apply makeup on Jane’s face. The curtain rises and she claps her hands together as she views the audience. Jane rolls around in the bed in a white dress.

In muted colors, Jane bounces on the bed. She glows from the applause of the audience. Back in the cerulean blue, Norma holds a mirror to her face. On television, Marcella and Siobhan continue to perform.

Rating: 3.5/5

Two murderous fictional women, Norma Desmond and Jane (“Whatever Happened to Baby Jane“) size one another up as they remain locked in a bedroom in a mansion. Jane believes her fortune and assets give her power. Norma shrugs her off as a copycat, stating she got her ideas from her. Jane took it further than she did, eliciting as much fame as possible from their public.

Norma calls up her agent and talks to a dial tone. She slams her fist on the bed as the delusion breaks for a minute. Jane basks in the admiration of her former glory to an empty audience.

However, Norma and Jane’s bickering confirms their narcissistic need to be stars and sociopathic natures to believe their crimes were justified. Norma, though, is dismissed as outright crazy without a chance at redemption. Jane wasn’t emotionally capable to handle the ups and downs of fame. Her mother thought of her children as meal tickets and pitted them against each other. Jane wanted to be loved by her family and would’ve been happy living in the suburbs away from Hollywood.

Director: Sophie Muller Year: 1992

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