Directed by: Michel Hazanvicius
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance
They don’t make them like they used to, but now they do. The Artist is the answer to film lover’s prayers, and mine too. Michel Hazanavicius, writer and director ofthis delightful motion picture was criticised for his idea of making a silentfilm in today’s modern age. Nevertheless, with the film’s sincerity, emotion,wit and crowd-pleasing homage to early Hollywood, it sure proves them wrong.The genuine charm this film has stands out from the CGI, 3D and blockbustermovies that have barraged are cinemas in recent years, and I can definitelyapprove that this film will be successful for those who have not yetexperienced a silent film. Simply one of 2011’s finest!
So what is this acclaimed film allabout? Our film opens in 1927 with famous actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent moviesuperstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his careerand see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky’s thelimit – major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of theirinterlinked destinies.
The cinematography is absorbing andeverything is gorgeously shot. Everything was so convincing I forgot I waswatching a film from 2011. Everything has been executed so perfectly. Thecostumes, the old Hollywood sets, the cars, the streets, everything! Half thetime it felt like an authentic 20’s silent film and I kept forgetting it wasmade in 2011. The music was beautifully done and is one of the elements thatgive it the most authenticity. Whetherit is that song, “pennies from heaven”, or the opening sequence, or even theboogie-styled jazz, you really feel like you watching a film made in the 20’s. A round of applaud for Ludovic Bource’s work here.
One of the most fascinating things ishow brilliant this film is, and how much I do not know any of the makersinvolved with the film. The only three familiar faces were Malcolm McDowell, John Goodman and Missi Pyle who was Violet’s mother in “Charlie and the ChocolateFactory”, who in this film, does an excellent job as the attention loving withof Valentin. She also reminds you of Singinin the Rain’s Lina Lamont. I can definitely see potential in these actorsin the future and I will be checking out their work.
The acting was golden and convincing. Berenice Bejo pulls off her rolemagically, and she would certainly give HelenKane a run for her money with her stunning beauty. Her performance wasemotionally driven, energetic and full of life. The ley thing that was enjoyable about seeingher was her great mime acting and expressions. With silent films, those twothings are extremely important. Movement and facial expression is used to thestrength of them, and so it is for this film and executes it wonderfully.
|Malcolm McDowell in his cameo to the right.
Of course, how could we forget the delectableJean Dujardin with the looks of Errol Flynn and the charm of Charlie Chaplin. His performance asGeorge Valentin is simply one of 2011’s finest performances with wit, humour,sadness and great finesse.
As a silent film lover, and enthusiastof cinema the film was exuberant, fun, charming and astoundingly entertaining. Itcaptures the early days of Hollywood with excellent grace, and seeing talkiessweep cinema in the film definitely pulls a grin to my face, in loving memoryof “Singin’ the Rain”, which also revolved around the invention of ‘talkie’pictures. While it does share it’s similarities with that film, it is still afresh film that overlooks the hard times of silent filmmakers.
This may not be my favourite film of alltime, but it is up their somewhere. I will go as far as saying that, if you donot like this, even just a little, you are crazy; especially if you are afilmgoer. That is quite how strongly I feel about this film. The film hasflawless charm and a classic plot that absorbs you right to the end withheart-warming emotion and beautiful imagery. There is too much charm not tolove this film. It has a classic story that retains the spirit of a greatsilent film, but still has a great vibrancy and energy to it.
Some enjoyed the film, although not tothe extent I did. I cannot see anything wrong with this film. The story hasbeen done a few times in cinema, (finest example is of course Singin In The Rain), but the fact thatsomeone went and made a silent film today; Especially with how cinema hasevolved. Therefore, it is a blissful homage and reminder of the era. Despitebeing a little old fashioned, it still connects to the audience with itslovable charm, wit, humour and gripping plot. You don’t need to be a historianor know about the talkies and their revolutionary impact either, because thefilm presents those details enough. For those unaware, it will be athought-provoking experience, and for those who know, it will be a portrayal ofbrilliance.
The cinema in which I saw it in I praisefor running the film, as it is the only place within 100 miles it is playingfor me. In addition, it was an Art House cinema. There were no more than 80people and the atmosphere was magical. Despite my friends and I being almostthe youngest (16-17) I was happy to see people appreciated the film. Even oneof my friends said a tear caught his eye in one of the films most tense moments. People laughedat the little jokes, and I heard discussion of the film as I walked out. The Artist has been one of the bestcinema experiences I have ever had with a film that showed such simplisticbeauty in its emotion and humour.
It has the poignancy and simplicityfilms lack today. Not today modern cinema has not had brilliant films (The Social Network, Inception, SlumdogMillionaire etc.), but romancestories have definitely taken things up a notch in complexity. This film getsto the roots of emotion, making it genuinely accessible and breath-taking towatch. Despite the characters not having a literal voice, through expression,gesture and body language, the film definitely has touching, surprising, funnyand emotional moments.
The film has had six golden globenominations, including best picture (comedy or musical), and with awards allover institutions, it is sweeping the floor. Popular among critics, andaudiences worldwide, I hope to see this films name appear frequently. For some,it may not seem like a broad film, but I firmly say that it is a wonderfulhomage and reminder to silent cinema, a time that should not be forgotten. Youngor old, this is a must-see film and is likely not to disappoint with its crowd-pleasingcharm, beautifully shot imagery and classy acting. The Artist is a poignant homage to early cinema that is likely toimpress even compared to today’s standards.
Fun fact: The film is shot in 1.33:1 ratio, just like how they did it back in the day.
My Rating: 10/10
Written by: Michel Hazanahvius
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Music by: Ludovic Bource
Distributed by: Warner Bros. France