THE LOVE NEST || 1923, USA || Comedy || Directed by – Buster Keaton, Edward F. Cline / Written by – Buster Keaton / Produced by – Joseph M. Schenck / Cinematography – Elgin Lessley / Starring – Buster Keaton, Joe Roberts, Virginia Fox / Running time: 20 mins.
The Love Nest is a hilarious short film full of clever gafs that on top of establishing a certain impulsiveness and adventurous style solidly represents the cinema of Buster Keaton, who at this point was quite comfortable with the two-reel format, and would shortly thereafter embark on an acclaimed career as a slapstick auteur of feature films, first one being Three Ages, also released in 1923.
Here, Keaton plays a man who takes a long trip at sea to forget his sweetheart, but finds himself aboard a whaling ship, captianed by a strict and short tempered man who throws members of his crew in open water for the slightest mistake. Queue the immediate constrast between Keaton and the captain, which is the source of most of the humorous altercations, chase sequences and pivotal predicaments in the film.
The rhythm is near perfect and only occasionally choppy, which is not unusual for many silent films of the time. While the gags are mostly of a physical nature, most or all have enough time to sink in, also through the use of clever pauses.
Aside from the usual praise for Keaton’s deadpan charisma, he showcases a taste for the surrealism and the absurd through small visual attributes that enhance the entertainment value of The Love Nest. Therefore, the progression of time is shown by Keaton’s blatant painted fake beard. In another devil in the detail moment, we see him apparently gazing out at sea on the horizon, before a heartbeat’s reveal of him actually looking at a painting of the sea, thus experimenting with the perspective offered by the cinematic medium. – 4/5