There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Hedy Lamarr was one of the most beautiful actresses to grace the screen. Her presence was demanding and hypnotic. Her performances were legendary. But above all to her, she didn’t care about any of that. The acting, beauty, and glamour could disappear in an instant, she wouldn’t mind. She didn’t care if she was seen as a Bombshell. What she really wanted to do was create. And that she did.
Writer/Director Alexandra Dean’s Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is an inspirational tale mixed with a rags to riches to rags story. There’s nothing here that makes the documentary stand out technically. Talking head interviews with Diane Kruger, Robert Osborne (in his final on-screen appearance), and Lamarr’s remaining family all attempt to tell the tale of her life.
The documentary feels like a scramble to find more of a story than the one they have. A lot of interesting portions of her life are glossed over to get back to the point that she wanted to be a great inventor. I enjoy the need for narrative focus, but it closes us off from other equally interesting parts of Hedy’s life.
While the doc may streamline itself, the emotion of the story is still present and hits where it needs to, when it needs to. There’s a moment where Dean puts a photo of Lamarr in her later years after her final round of plastic surgery. She was an innovator in many ways, including cosmetic surgery, but the picture feels like it’s on the screen to show how far she had come. There’s a horror to seeing what she had done to her looks, but more importantly, we see her devastating deterioration both inside and out.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story may not be the most innovative documentary, but it more than does justice to the woman who deserved to be seen for more than just her looks. Hedy Lamarr was an acting icon and an under-seen inventor. Lamarr innovated in many ways during her life. It may not pay tribute in the groundbreaking way she may have, but it sure as hell succeeds at painting a life worth remembering.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
- Hedy Lamarr's story is an exceptional one
- Director Alexandra Dean does a fine job bringing the main story to life
- Bonus points for Robert Osborne
- The feeling that nearly all detail was taken out of her story hurts
- Bombshell doesn't innovate in the way that Lamarr ended up doing making the film feel rather standard