The Artist

The Artist is a black and white silent film set in the 1920s and is about silent movie star, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who is a major success in Hollywood. Then there is the new girl Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), who is trying to make her way onto the silver screen after a chance meeting with George.

But the advent of sound cinema is just over the horizon and this has the studios worried. George believes it will all just be a passing fad though and is unwilling to change for anyone…

The fact that The Artist is entirely silent (apart from the music over the top) might be daunting to a few people (the cinema even had to warn us as we were going in because apparently people had been asking for their money back – fools!!!). It is also shot on an old, smaller aspect ratio which again is strange after being so used to all films today made to be bigger and wider all the time. But don’t let this put you off at all. It’s a clever little trick that completely immerses you in the film and it doesn’t distract from the beautiful and heartwarming story, or the telling of it either.

And there are some scenes that are completely silent without even music which are actually very strange to watch – almost uncomfortable: you can feel everyone else in the cinema trying not to so much as breathe. The idea of making a silent film brings back the notion of cinema as a collective experience though – the silence makes you feel connected to everyone else there and this is one of the reasons the film works so well.

There is also scene after scene of innovative ideas that play on the idea of sound and that pay homage to silent films of the time. The score is great and toe-tapping as are the dance numbers (especially the final one). And it is beautifully shot and designed – sometimes it does actually feel like a film from the 1920s that has been lost somewhere….until you see John Goodman pop up that is.

It is also heartbreaking to watch in parts and the relationship between George and Peppy is touching and very real – because they aren’t talking to each other their connections are all told through their looks and their chemistry is brilliant (probably because they’ve worked together before on director Michel Hazanavicius previous film OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies). And the fact that they can say more with a look than a word speaks volumes for Jean Dujardin’s and Bérénice Bejo’s brilliant performances.

It’s funny, touching, beautiful…there actually aren’t enough words to describe it accurately enough. I just genuinely LOVED it so much. Don’t let the fact that it’s silent put you off – it’s truly blissful to watch. And it’s got THE cutest acting dog ever. What more do you want?

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~ by square-eyed-geek on January 24, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Artist”

  1. This was a very well-made film and had its moments where it captures the whole spirit and essence of the silent film era but it’s not that life-changing experience that everybody says it is. Still, a good flick though and I do think it does still deserve the Best Picture Oscar just because I don’t think The Descendants would be a very good winner that will last for the ages. Good review.

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