As a recovering addict, it’s a complicated thing, this desire to “see” myself on the screen.
JoinedMarch 22, 2021
Julia Sirmons writes about everything "over-the-top" in film, television and performance: melodrama and musicals, true crime and crime fiction, horror and (sometimes) reality television. Her work has been published in Slate, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Crime Reads, Catapult, and other venues. She has a PhD in Theatre and Performance, and has taught everything from Shakespeare and Wordsworth to 24 Hour Party People and The Thin Blue Line. She is currently working on a book on true crime and performance, and lives in New York.
In cinema, chosen family melodramas are sprawling, surprising, and passionate films, playing with the traditional forms to reflect bonds that are often in flux and difficult to describe.
In Irving Rapper’s Now, Voyager—as in all great Hollywood melodramas—gestures are charged with the force of things that cannot be, desires that can barely be spoken.
Both Josef von Sternberg’s The Scarlet Empress (1934) and Hulu’s current series The Great use the opulence of the Empress’ court to tell the story of Catherine's rise as a triumph of light, elegance, and beauty over a twisted, grotesque darkness.
The richness with which I, Claudius renders the character of its underdog—the good and the bad, the inconsistent and the inexplicable—leads us to the deepest, thorniest questions about our place in history, and how things happen (or don’t) in turbulent times.
Hepburn and Grant tumble toward happy endings through chaos and adventure, misunderstandings and trickery, all with an effortless grace.