This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
ennaih’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
So perfectly constructed that every development made me happier and happier. I guessed the ending right at the start, then was persuaded I was wrong, and was even more delighted when I was proven right. Has it gotten to the point where I can predict the punchline to a Keaton/Cline joke? Perhaps. Or maybe the port joke was that obvious.
The elegance and pacing of the shooting fish gag had me smiling the whole time. The construction of the target gag was fucken exquisite, man -- not just one, but one two three to escalate our dread and anticipation because by now we expect Keaton to get out of it somehow, to escape at the very last second, to save himself. But then he's as shocked as we are, but luckily that adorable ending saves us from the grief and bleakness. It's not a Cops ending this time, phew.
I wonder if Joe Roberts was a gentle giant like I suspect. I'm so fond of him now.
The wreaths motif was done so well, I love shit like that, I giggled every time. And the nuances of his expressions every time were a goddamned joy.
The porthole gag struck me as a tiny precursor to Sherlock Jr -- which came out the next year, ha -- and got me thinking (again) about how early cinema fucks so hard with perception and reality, and how we seem to have lost that now. But that's nonsense, we haven't at all, it just looks different now. Now we have scifi and psychological drama to fuck with our perceptions of reality, maybe we've segregated that stuff into genre but no, I refuse to believe we've lost anything clever and/or charming from when they were trying to work out what to do with this new medium.
I loved the line about wages and insurance benefits. Lookit Keaton flagging workers rights in 1923. I wonder if he was a good director-producer like that.
More importantly, somehow he seemed extra pretty in this? Always a bonus.
I thought that was the last of the silent shorts but actually I have a few more Arbuckles to get through.