Troubled genius Robert Downey Jr plays troubled genius Charlie Chaplin.

Citizen cane … Robert Downey Jr in Chaplin (1992).

I had no real interest in Chaplin before seeing this movie but I had heard good things about RDJ’s performance and I was not disappointed. While he earned all the plaudits for his realistic portrayal of Chaplin’s on stage slapstick persona, it is the quieter, more personal scenes in which Downey Jr shines.

The great thing about Robert Downey Jr is he plays flawed geniuses so often (Iron Man, Zodiac, Sherlock Holmes etc) but he plays them all completely differently and his Chaplin is possibly his best (if not as fun as Tony Stark) of the lot. A brilliant supporting cast of Dan Aykroyd, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Dunn, Anthony Hopkins, John Thaw et al further help to bring Chaplin to life but sometimes leave the screen a bit crowded.

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My one criticism of Chaplin would be that director Richard Attenborough tries to fit too much in. In covering nearly all of Charlie Chaplin’s life in just two and a half hours it started to feel confusing as to what was going on as ‘The Little Tramp’ was married four times and did so much with his life. It is however, a testament to the quality of the film that even at such a long running time I would have happily seen proceedings stretched out for another forty five minutes in order to give the story more time to breath.

Whether you have any interest in Charlie Chaplin or not is immaterial, if you like good cinema than you should watch Chaplin.

NOMINATED FOR 3 OSCARS