Ever watch a classic Chaplin or Keaton silent film and wish today’s filmmakers would take a stab at the amplified acting and physical comedy of this now ancient medium? Well director Matthew Janzen has done just that with The Salesman. Made to look exactly like a film from the silent era, The Salesman follows a day in the life of a shoe salesman.
As he tries desperately to convince customers to buy his shoes on the street, the little shoe salesman ends up at a family dinner by accident. A mother and father welcome a successful young suitor to their home to have dinner with their daughter. The salesman wanders into the mix, putting a monkey wrench in the suitor’s plans. What follows are textbook examples of the physical comedy and pratfalls made famous by Keaton and Chaplin.
The Salesman could easily be dismissed as merely an experiment in a style of filmmaking that has seen its day. Instead, it pays homage to the silent era by reminding the viewer of why motion pictures were created, to entertain.