out of Five
Running time: 93
A spectacular and sumptuous documentary, Sunset Strip delves deep into the decadence and sleaze of Los Angeles’ notorious street of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and truly captivates thanks to razor-sharp editing, a thumping soundtrack and an all-star cast that share and reveal amusing anecdotes of their time on The Strip.
What’s it all about?
The legendary Sunset Strip in Los Angeles takes centre stage in this nostalgic and vibrant documentary, which pays tribute to the one and a half neon-lit miles of Sunset Boulevard linking Hollywood to Beverly Hills. Directed and co-written by Hans Fjellestad, Sunset Strip returns to the hedonistic street’s humble beginnings as a dusty dirt track, which was capitalised on by a Frenchman, before travelling to the notorious eras of decadence that took place on the Strip from the 1940s to present day. An all-star cast feature, including Johnny Depp, Kelly Osbourne, Sharon Stone and Keanu Reeves, who reminisce about their Sunset heydays and the drinking, drugs, gambling, illicit sex and other sins that took place on the street that once dripped with movie stars and rock stars.
Every second of Sunset Strip is enthralling and gripping, exposing stories about the wild, self-gratifying and now legendary locations such as The Garden of Allah, Chateau Marmont and Ciro’s, a lavish nightclub, which later became The Comedy Store. Featuring a dazzling cast, viewers are offered an exclusive yet candid peek into footage and stories oozing with celebrity debauchery and over-indulgence. Sharply edited, Sunset Strip also features a powerful soundtrack, which breathes added energy into every scene.
Fascinatingly, Sunset Strip doesn’t just stop at reminiscing about the street’s glamorous movie stars and ferocious rock stars, but it also touches on the lesser-known comedic side to the street, which is entirely fascinating and refreshing to see. Visiting the renowned Comedy Store that sits in the heart of the Strip, Sunset Strip recounts the hedonistic and self-indulgent lifestyles of former stand-up legends including Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Steve Martin, before it all came crashing down in 1982 when the legendary comedian and musician John Belushi was found dead in the famous Chateau Marmont hotel after an accidental drug overdose. As close friends, including his former comedy partner Dan Aykroyd, reminisce about the consequences of Belushi’s death, viewers are offered a rare glimpse into famous figures’ bracing honesty and are presented with compelling footage showing a darker side to comedy.
Whether you’re familiar with Sunset Strip or not, this nostalgic and celebratory documentary is truly thrilling, thanks to exhilarating anecdotes from famous names, an energetic style and fascinating archival footage. Highly recommended.