Film Review: ‘The Chaperone’ is Excellent Lesson in 1920s Identity

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CHICAGO – Although mostly set in the early 1920s, “The Chaperone” has some pungent lessons regarding identity, and living life authentically. The story of former silent film star Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York City expresses both how we can live today and how they lived back then. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

A couple of actor punks from the 1980s/90s period, Elizabeth McGovern and Campbell Scott, portray a grown up flapper-era married couple from Kansas with welcome sensitivity. It is McGovern that shines, as the title character, as it is her journey that upends several lives, up to and including her young about-to-be-a-star responsibility. Haley Lu Richardson (“The Edge of Seventeen”) solidifies her up and coming status by creating a memorable Louise Brooks, a person ahead of her time. The pairing of chaperone and starlet makes for an absorbing narrative, combining the morality of the time with an emerging show business dynamo.

Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) is itching to leave her Wichita, Kansas, straitjacket and practice modern dance at a famous school in New York City, run by Ruth St. Dennis (Miranda Otto). She needs a chaperone to the big city, and local woman Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) volunteers, leaving her family and husband Alan (Campbell Scott) to fend for themselves.

The two travelers are at odds, as Louise proves to be precocious beyond her teen age years. After arrival, she begins the school while Norma takes care of an errand. The chaperone was adopted from an NYC orphanage and shipped to Kansas, and she uses subterfuge and help from handyman Jack (Geza Rohrig) to find the name of her birth mother, and start in motion a series of life changes for all.

“The Chaperone” opened in Chicago on April 12th, part of a limited nationwide release. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Haley Lu Richardson, Campbell Scott, Miranda Otto, Geza Rohrig and Blythe Danner. Screenplay adapted by Julian Fellows, from a novel by Laura Moriarty. Directed by Michael Engler. Not Rated

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Chaperone”

Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) and the Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) in “The Chaperone”
Photo credit: PBS

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Chaperone”

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