Wesley R. Ball’s review published on Letterboxd:
You got to let me go! I don't know that girl's name, but I love her!
Sometimes, I think it's impossible to hate the vast majority of most silent films. They're just so innovative for their time, and pioneered a whole wave of newfound entertainment for generations of people the world over. Sometimes I probably even give a silent film a free pass because of their ingenuity. Paul Fejos's Lonesome is about as innovative as silent films come. Feeding off of the popularity of Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer, the film has some scenes of recorded dialogue. And oh my word, it was pretty cheesy and terrible. Like, the whole film was pretty much perfect as a straight up silent film, until we got to the few scenes that had audible dialogue. It just seemed too flat and not convincing enough in the audible dialogue's execution, it was almost cringeworthy in its presentation.
The most innovative thing about this film, however, would have to be the color. A couple of the Coney Island scenes where the couple is just sitting alone, gazing at the sunset, were gorgeous, simply put. I can't deny how artistic the color usage was in these scenes, but they sadly don't last too long. It doesn't help things when we get jolted back to the unconvincing audible dialogue either. Perhaps Fejos's film would've turned out better if it was all just silent with a beautiful accompanying score and gorgeous color scenes.
Lonesome isn't a terrible silent film, but it really isn't anywhere near my favorite. I appreciate how Fejos tried to add some genuine originality through mixing silent with sound, but Chaplin did it far better with Modern Times. The color tinting, however, is undeniably gorgeous, and is the best part of the film. This one is worth a watch, if only for the cultural and historical value.