Sometimes something small and slight can be appealing. ‘The Chaperone,’ in scale, seems tiny compared to a lot of other movies, but its intimacy works well for it. Sure, you can probably get as good entertainment on PBS (wait, this was distributed by PBS) but I left a theater with a grin on my face, and on a Wednesday night, I could do much worse.
It’s set in 1922, and a young woman, Louis Brooks gets a dancing scholarship to New York City. But she needs a chaperone, and Norma (Elizabeth McGiovern) volunteers to go with her. We find out why later as we discover she has been going through some personal turmoil and uses this opportunity to escape. The screenplay has a lto of things going on – missing birth parents, gay affair, prohibition, just to name three – but it is all treated in a nice genteel manner. McGovern is fine as the fuddy-duddy Midwesterner in the big city, but the real star here is Haley Lu Richardson as Brooks. In her hands, you can see how and why Brooks became a huge star. (This story is fictional, of course) So all in all, this is really fine, and some people may take issue with the film’s plentiful shortcomings, but I like it enough to recommend. On a night when you want to relax and see something very pleasant, this would fill the ticket nicely.