If Chaplin would've continued his quest for dark humor and perfected this persona like he did with the tramp, it would've been great. This is the kind of movie that could really use a remake to pump up the black comedy, to really combine slapstick with murder, something that wasn't truly possible at that time because of the censorship...
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'm not quite sure how I feel about this. As a social outcry, it's truly engaging as Chaplin puts the hypocrisy of society in the LIMELIGHT (Pun intended). That said, let me say the following. I never agreed with people who say that Chaplin desperately wants everybody to love him. I always thought that his work came from a genuine place. Here, the fact that he refuses to acknowledge his moral corruption puts me off.
Charlie Chaplin continua a deliciar-nos aqui no Espaço Nimas com as suas obras-primas. Este domingo, dia 9 de Junho às 15h30, venha deliciar-se também com mais esta sessão do ciclo "Cinema Familiar", "O Barba Azul" de Charlie Chaplin. Preço único de 4 euros. Projecção em 35mm.