At first, M. Verdoux can seem like a stunt, or a piece of performance art: a beloved comic icon making a film that looks and sounds like comedy but is too dark, bitter, and uncomfortable for laughter. Then the writing reveals a film about the trauma of the mid-20th century whose balance of cynicism and naivety may be the most nuanced and sophisticated thing Chaplin ever did. And he threw in some real laughs too.
Chaplin begins with a lateral tracking shot through a cemetery, an ominous tree, the inevitable shadows. MONSIEUR VERDOUX is Chaplin at his most sociologically & philosophically resonant. His aesthetic of comedy is inextricably fused with questions of ethics, of pessimism & optimism. Chaplin revolutionarily undermines the opposition between good & evil. What does propriety conceal? Train wheels: persistent & horrid.
Chaplin's leftist sentiments are no secret in this film, and several years later, he was refused re-entry to the USA, because of his political views. Here, he portrays a remorseless serial killer; his crimes are nothing compared to that of corporate warmongers, and he has no qualms about saying so. Chaplin turned his back on America, returning only after 20 years, when he was honored with an Academy Award in 1972.
I give this 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Were this story in the hands of anyone other than Charlie Chaplin, Verdoux would've been a loathsome bastard and this film would've been a very hard watch. While Monsieur Verdoux isn't exactly Chaplin's masterpiece, its still highly entertaining despite being an almost complete departure from his previous work.
The greatest comedian of all time finally leaves behind 'The Tramp' the character that made him famous, and here plays a serial killer, a very affable and charming one, though.
A gem of black comedy, in which Chaplin showed a little wickedness, without abandoning his social commentary nor his sentimentality.
He easily proves why murder can be also a laughing matter.