Friday, January 30, 2009

"Chaplin" (1992) - Movie Review

“Chaplin” is an uninteresting film about a very interesting man in the history of films. It is the man who along with me every kid would have laughed hysterically. Rolled out in pain on the guffaw never ending on seeing this little man doing the the extreme stunts. Stunts which would have taken ridiculous physical fall and toll on his lean and rubbery body. This is Charlie Chaplin, the creator of “The Little Tramp” who became the cherishing character in majority of his silent films.

Here Robert Downey Jr. pours his energy in details, every droplets of it to recreate the legend in a film which hardly gets a theme in its hold. With a fictional writer George (Anthony Hopkins) questioning Chaplin for his book, Chaplin begins to rekindle his entire life for his biography. George poses questions, judgments in the most diplomatic manner to Charlie on things being vague. Charlie does not want to talk about it but wants his biography written. The movie is like that, vague and unfamiliar on what it is dealing with.

As a child young Charles had his entertaining skills put into action when his mother Hannah (Geraldine Chaplin) gets booed off the stage. He does not have fear of the ruffian crowd but goes on his instincts and performs his charms. His mom begins to descend in the insanity and Charlie grows up on his own to join his half brother Syd (Paul Rhys) in to the troupe who circles the country performing their shows. Charlie does the inventive and creative drunken old man entering a clueless crowd. We are listening till this moment. Then it takes a dive into chaotic story telling.

May be I am expecting too much of a story and melodrama in this life of the great performer. May be it is all but a steps of uneventful and pointless actions in his real life. Or is it that Richard Attenborough’s film seem to be lost in the hope of a forgotten theme in a man’s real life? As the film progresses, Chaplin’s weakness to young women and his constant hope of getting back with his first love Hetty (Moira Kelly) sounds dramatic and points to the decline of a famous figure but we do not sympathize, empathize or appreciate along with him.

Chaplin embraced the country of America despite being an Englishman. He left his home and ramped up his career in the early budding of film industry sky high. He accomplished a lot both socially and financially without inhibitions before the age of 30. In doing so, he also brought great films to the globe and much wider audience any one could imagine in current times. Yet his passion for making films are entirely skipped. He becomes toiled with the work and spends days and days in studio composing music and editing his film but despite Downey Jr.’s great acting rarely do we see the man’s craving for true cinema.

He was harassed and targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s (Kevin Dunn) spies and also in the list to be nailed down any opportunity given which of course happens later part of this life. He begins to like this battle of kindling the system. He has the power too and toys with it. For a man bringing humour to the screen and as much truth it is in real life that a comic has a sad story, Chaplin becomes an example of it. He chooses wrong women and falls for emotional break outs which by the way rarely takes place in the film. There is a void of details in the film.

In a very truthful and ironic part of the film is when the film arrives its end. Chaplin explains his unfulfilled feeling of not being good enough in the work he did to George. George never really understands this man as us throughout the film. Chaplin explains in a philosophical tone that to understand him George has to simply watch his movies. Rightfully said so Mr. Chaplin, Rightfully said. A complete and honest statement in a film of nothing but stoic moments of a great film maker.

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