This is technically not a silent film, but it’s also not not a silent film. In fact for much of its running time, it’s an exemplary advertisement for the freedom and artistic possibilities that the medium had reached in the year after the similar Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans was released, because when the brief segments with synchronised sound come they literally stop the film in its tracks. What is a city symphony for New York City, with loose impressionistic photography, heady use of lap dissolves and location shooting, suddenly becomes for about a minute each time a static and ugly dialogue scene with an unmoving camera and no real sense of place. Luckily, those scenes pass quickly, largely self-contained, leaving Lonesome to be a sweepingly romantic film about two people who find each other by chance, visit Coney Island, then are separated just as (un)fortuitously (by the cops no less, going above and beyond their duty of care), and that’s pretty much the plot of the thing. However, it’s a fairly swooning film that for all its slender plot still manages to carry you along.
FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Pál Fejős [as “Paul Fejos”]; Writers Edward T. Lowe Jr., Tom Reed and Mann Page; Cinematographer Gilbert Warrenton; Starring Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon; Length 69 minutes.
Seen at home (Blu-ray), London, Friday 10 March 2023.