Reviews

The Artist

4

Silence is golden...

There's no better way to end the year than by catching this delightful homage to silent cinema – a tender, witty and exceedingly clever caprice from the OSS-117 team of director Michel Hazanavicius and leading man Jean Dujardin.

Set in Hollywood at the end of the ’20s, it’s essentially Singin’ In The Rain meets A Star Is Born with some Citizen Kane thrown in. Most of all, however, it’s a great big hug of a movie guaranteed to send you out into the cold with a smile on your face.

With an adoring public behind him and a string of box-office hits under his belt, George Valentin (Dujardin) is rarely without one as the story begins. Yet that grin soon fades as the wordless extravaganzas on which his career depends are swept aside by the craze for talkies.

Unwilling or unable to make the transition, George’s star fades just as that of his protégé Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) rises. The twist is that this Tinseltown yarn is told itself as a black-and-white silent, complete with intertitles, soft-focus close-ups and constant musical accompaniment.

It’s not entirely a dumb show, one hilarious dream sequence seeing George tormented by the new scourge of sound and a climactic line of spoken dialogue. For the most part, though, Hazanavicius stays faithful to his inspiration in a way that makes his film both a nostalgic throwback and a work of art in its own right.

Dujardin replicates the polished urbanity of Douglas Fairbanks, while his Argentine-born co-star is so puckishly charming that, had she been born 100 years ago, she would have given Clara Bow a run for her money.

The toast of Cannes, The Artist could go all the way. Best Picture? Don’t bet against it.

Verdict:

This elegantly crafted salute to yesteryear is well worth shouting about. And we haven’t even mentioned Jack the dog. 

Film Details

User Reviews

    • FBEXanthopoul

      Jan 21st 2012, 16:50

      4

      www.unsungfilms.com, by Georgia Xanthopoulou This was the year of my return to the festival which turned me into a film junkie a long long time ago. You can say I fell off the wagon again this year… I was first introduced to the festival in 2002 and have been hooked since. ‘Opening Nights’ screens a plethora and varying types of films, from the biggest premieres of the year, to retrospectives of great directors and film movements, to films one will probably never get the chance to see again on the big screen. All in all, a film buff’s oasis in the midst of the blues every September gives you. So, you must imagine my disappointment when, for the last four years, the ‘antidote’ to September’s blues was not running from film theater to film theater but studying abroad. Being a graduate and feeling quite as lost as Ben Braddock, this year I, at least, went back to watching 25 films in two weeks and loving the process as always. I have to say the highlights of the festival are completely subjective, since I am always careful to choose the films I am most likely to enjoy. This festival, to me, is never about being educated, even though I often am in the process of it. However, every time I choose what is safest to watch-at least according to my personal taste. And it’s gotten me so far. ‘The Artist’ would have to be the film of this festival to me (yes, the revelation at the Cannes’ festival as well, but who ever gets to watch that one?). A black and white silent movie isn’t exactly what companies produce in 2011. As retro, exotic, risqué or boring an idea it may sound to some, the film was extremely refreshing, as it was up to the actors’ facial expressions and the music to do all the work. Usually, I tend to enjoy the more ‘cerebral’ type of comedy, one based on witty dialogue and word plays. This was definitely absent here, as good timing in delivering lines is replaced by the more emotive dimension of acting and music. And the impact is great. The film starts off as a silent revisiting of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (did anybody else thought the leading man — Palme D’Or winner btw, looked a lot like Gene Kelly?) as it tells the story of a silent film star finding it hard to transition successfully to a career in the talkies. And, of course, there is the girl who is talented, s***ky and cute whom the protagonist helps with her career. However, the film soon adopts a more dramatic tone, as one sees the heart ache involved in realizing you are not compatible with current situations, getting to reminiscing more and more the old times when things were easier and he was famous and, slowly, loses his mind. It is obvious that the film serves the same purpose of reminding us a time when things were simpler as well. It is definitely a nostalgic approach to cinema but, somehow, it works, especially at a time when Europe seem to re-evaluate, or wishes it has valued more, the past years. And, by the end, when you realize that if this was a talkie, it would have never worked, or been made in the first place, since the actors wouldn’t have been believable as Hollywood film stars with their French accents. So, it might not be nostalgia for a simpler time, just a call for filmmaking whose creativity is not bound by language barriers-and all the other restrictions that come with it. Georgia Xanthopoulou at www.unsungfilms.com

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    • MikeyRix

      Jan 27th 2012, 21:02

      4

      Just came back from seeing this. What a way to start the New Year! Challenge is on the rest of you, Cinema of 2012!

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    • Dev2705

      Feb 24th 2012, 11:37

      I just saw the decade old Minority Report yesterday.Visionary,exciting and entertaining-like a trademark Spielberg movie.And today i saw the silent movie The Artist by a Michel Hazanivcius.It just makes me realise how loud and full of sounds was Minority Report!It doesnt mean i am taking anything away from the great Minority Report.Infact i have grown up expecting sound and colour to fill up my senses everytime the screen lights up.And have i loved it!"I will make him an offer he can't refuse","You're talking to me?", "You had me at hello" and millions of other immortal lines would never enter our conciousness.So why would anyone want to make a silent movie in 2011?I don't know where Michel's original inspiration originated but the reason the movie works so well is because it celebrates something which every person who has ever walked into a dark theater loves-Cinema.Jean Djuardin is marvellous,his face delivers to me more than any writer could print on a page-sorrow,joy and love.Berenice Bejo is chirpy,without ever screeching or being loud in words.Her face lights up the movie.Movie Veterans of John Goodman and James Cromwell provide able support to the movie-Even at their age they took part in something so new and refreshing-Kudos to that!The movie takes away a sensory input away from us-sound which heightens our interest for the 90 minutes the movie unfolds in front of us.It might make you feel weird when lips are moving but you cant quite know wat they are saying.But you don't need to.The characters movements are enuf dialogues.In the end the movie teaches us one thing-in the age of 3D,graphics and need for Critical Acclaim,lets not forget why Cinema began,to Entertain the crowd to bask in the glory of their patronage.The Audience is supreme and Cinema exists to make them fall in love with something extraordinary.Movies won't succeed if you want an Oscar.Movies won't succeed if you want to take top prize at box office.Movies will succeed if you embrace your audience-small or large,mass or the class.We dont want to see the future,nor the past.We want to see human stories remindind us that yes there is sadness but there is happiness too and thats life...and if you want to smile all the time-get Uggie the dog!(Srsly a performer of first class competes with Jean as the best performer!)That is the Artist and like they do in the end,I take a bow to you Cinema!for more such reviews please see my blog-filmbuff27.blogspot.in

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    • Toph80

      Mar 7th 2012, 4:34

      Not going to give a long winded comment on the film....Simply all i'm going to say is BRILLIANT. Acting was superb, and music fittingly enchanting. Deserved all it got this award season.

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    • MoneyPenny3007

      Mar 14th 2012, 13:49

      In need of writing my term paper I survey the movie “The Artist”. I would be very pleased if you could take a couple of minutes to answer my questions. Thank you for your support!!! http://www.studentenforschung.de/web/?id=254625

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