The Kid

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 16, 2015

Coogan is extraordinarily beautiful, and his acting is completely winning, and Chaplin, who’s very unselfish here, answers to the exact same description, it’s interesting how this isn’t very much of a comedy at all, though the window-breaking stuff is great, and the domestic arrangements are full of innovation and charm (and inspiration–how the poor make do), and the fight with the cauliflower ear guy is a gut-buster; what’s dominant is critique and confusion, intentional and un–Edna’s only sin is motherhood (? not fornication?) and she’s followed by an image of Christ and the cross, which doesn’t quite mesh though the restored juxtaposition with the loveless, joyless nuptials (a young girl with an old guy) helps: isn’t Edna’s burden more pure than this other sanctioned by both church and God?; the Old Pasadena exteriors contrast powerfully and intentionally with the Limehouse sets, the child-stealing is completely harrowing (Caitlin, 4 1/2, and Drew, nearly three, both started sobbing) and, a la Dickens, out of real social worker practice, the flop-house baby-snatch is nearly as affecting (what an actor!) and shows that the poor are just as bad (cf. Accatone); the remarkable vision of heaven, in addition to saying much about CC’s preferences in women and being a bit inexplicable dramatically, shows painfully that the gowns and wings are just a costume and the patches and dirt remain beneath, and the same is true of the courtyard, which despite whitewash and blossoms, is still the same wretched place, and though sin is identified as the cause of Charlie’s wrenching demise (an angel shot down and fallen!), it’s as much social conditions as man’s carnal nature that makes this heaven false; the sudden, muted and ambiguous ending, where the now wealthy Edna reunites the boys (for 5 minutes?, forever?) reinforces the feeling–as in Sparrows, it’s only through the intervention of the rich (a poor soul become a famous actor!) that anyone gets saved, which ultimately leaves a lot of unredeemed souls behind