Movie Review: The Artist
Recent award show domination along with ruling most critics’ year-end lists has propelled The Artist, a beautifully made 2011 French film, to the top of moviegoers’ must-see lists. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist takes place from 1927 to 1932, and tells the tale of the declining popularity of silent films in favor of talkies, films with synchronized sound. The biggest star of the silent film era, George Valentin (marvelously played by Jean Dujardin) has a random, chance encounter with an aspiring young actress named Peppy Miller (played by the delightful Bérénice Bejo). That encounter leads Peppy to a small role in one of Valentin’s films; later opening the door to superstardom in talkies, which itself has skyrocketed in popularity with audiences. As studio bosses decide to no longer produce silent films solely in favor of producing talkies, we witness the ascension of Peppy Miller as the poster girl for the new film era and the obsoletion of George Valentin as the film industry’s top draw.
With noisy clunkers from the Transformers and Fast & Furious franchises monopolizing today’s box-office, I openly welcomed the change of pace, simplicity and style of The Artist. The Artist is filmed and produced as if it were a silent film from the era that it depicts. You, the viewer, experience the very same type of movie and style of acting that is being represented onscreen as dead and passé. By the film’s end, quality trumps technology, and in turn, you root for Valentin’s character even more.
I very much enjoyed every aspect of The Artist, from the superb performances, especially from the expressive Jean Dujardin to composer Ludovic Bource’s award-winning yet Kim Novak-detested score. Besides, any film that can mask stalking (cough, cough Peppy Miller) as devotion and friendship easily wins my vote. The Artist should clean-up very nicely come Oscar time.