Everyone has a wild side. Even a legend.

143 min     7.445     1992     France


An aged Charlie Chaplin narrates his life to his autobiography's editor, including his rise to wealth and comedic fame from poverty, his turbulent personal life and his run-ins with the FBI.


CinemaSerf wrote:
Told by way of a retrospective, this is a stylish and informative - if not always very entertaining - biopic on the legendary film star. He is discussing his autobiography and as he meanders down memory lane, we accompany him from his life in Edwardian London through his journey to the USA where he found fame with Keystone Studios and developed the legendary "Tramp" persona that resonated so well with an increasingly poverty-stricken populace. Robert Downey Jnr is effective in the title role, conveying much of the quirkiness - and selfishness - of this character. Geraldine Chaplin (his real life daughter) delivers a poignantly strong, if sparing, contribution and the attention to detail with costumes and sets is special. Thing is, although it must have been hard for Richard Attenborough to condense eighty-eight years of this man's hugely interesting life into one film, those moments he has selected tend a little towards the more salacious; those less demonstrative of his creative genius. The scenes at the start when an opportunity was there to illustrate to us how his workhouse upbringing instilled the ethic that was to drive him all his life - we skip through them all too superficially (though maybe that's because there was no role for Downey?). The political emphasis on the McCarthy witch-hunts is interesting, and the general FBI conspiracy elements are developed well, but for me this is much less about the man than it is about the myth and that's a shame. The supporting cast deliver well enough - John Thaw as his discoverer "Karno" and Dan Aykroyd strong amongst them, and to be fair it does rather fly by for almost 2½ hours. I can't help but admire the director's intention to encapsulate such a lot into such a little amount of screen time, but perhaps it was just never really possible in the first place - if justice were ever to be done to this flawed, enigmatic, charming, ruthless and funny man.