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Critics reviews
Lonesome
Pál Fejös United States, 1928
Despite LONESOME’s complex and virtuosic visual style, this degradation tarnished the experience hardly at all. Don’t get me wrong: the restored 35mm print that will be screening on Sunday… is an object of great beauty and I envy those who will see the film for the first time under such blessed circumstances. But the mongrelized bootleg of LONESOME tapped into something elemental and true about this very special film, which would be impure and compromised in any version.
March 03, 2017
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Falling in love on Fourth of July weekend, Coney Island-style, gives Fejos room to flex other then-emerging innovations for pure spectacle. How better to capture the Wonder Wheel at the time than to tint it a dreamy pink glow, or the jolting rush of a coaster than by strapping a camera to the front? Summer’s gone, so preserve the memory one last time.
September 23, 2015
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Essentially a two-character piece, which is why it matters that both lead performances are mediocre: Barbara Kent is lovely but can’t avoid bits of pantomime fakery when e.g. she’s waking up and stretching, or waving goodbye to a departing car, while Glenn Tryon comes off bumptious and self-conscious as he tries for youthful exuberance (doing two things at once, pretending to talk to an invisible butler, etc).
March 01, 2015
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Like a scientist, Fejos had an analytical temperament, but the grandeur of the movie isn’t in its social science alone but in its fusion with the turmoil of inner life, which the underlying politics turn universal. His blend of wildly subjective romanticism and the clinician’s cold objectivity gives rise to a distinctive art.
March 25, 2014
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Judging from the technical daring of Lonesome, Fejos wasn’t particularly preoccupied with the possibilities of sound, instead employing a host of experimental shots, montage sequences, rudimentary color processes, and a series of other unexpected visually poetic gestures both to communicate a romance of bittersweet disconnection and to convey an atmosphere of modern urban life spinning out of control.
February 25, 2013
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“Lonesome”… combines technical mastery with a deep feeling for human behavior. As much as you may admire the virtuosity with which Fejos sends his camera darting and thrusting around Jim’s apartment — a kinetic, visceral way of evoking his boredom and agitation — the details Fejos settles on are telling.
August 31, 2012
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Lonesome, in the end, looks to its protagonists to sort out a net of conflicting impulses, and the effort helps to power Lonesome’s Borzage-by-way-of-Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind resolution (under a layer of phantasmal nitrate erosion), when a final, O. Henry-ish reveal takes on an almost cosmic, Dreyer-esque transcendence.
August 30, 2012
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Paul Fejos’s Lonesome is one of those no-longer-forgotten treasures that cinephiles in the know cherish. A frequent retrospective highlight at film festivals, lovingly restored, it has a fresh, dashing charm and brio that repay numerous visits. The visual virtuosity of this film alone might argue for Fejos’s placement in the auteurist firmament.
August 28, 2012
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As an evocation of urban life, “Lonesome” has intimations of “Metropolis” and “Modern Times”—Mary and Jim are not only shown as cogs in a machine-like labor force but, in their notions of leisure and fantasy, products of mass culture as well.
August 23, 2012
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