Friday, 27 January 2012


The temptation to not write a single word for this review is nigh unbearable. Just place a star rating and some photos and leave it at that. However, I know I'm hilarious, but just won't do from a professional point of view will it? The golden age of silent movies returns this Oscar season with a new film that has racked in 10 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director. With next to no sound, (apart from the score) The Artist makes it's way into contemporary cinema. Is it really worth the fuss?

So what's it about? It's 1927 in Hollywoodland. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a star actor of the silent movies. The camera loves him and the ladies love him. Along with his dog, Jack, he makes hit films and is always greeted by the press and a swarm of screaming ladies. One woman ends up being pushed past a policeman and into George Valentin just outside the theatre. He laughs it off and poses for the camera with his fan. The next day, the papers are covered with the question 'Who is this girl?' That girl is Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), aspiring actress. She auditions as a dancer soon after her encounter with Valentin and ends up on set with the man himself. A spark develops between the two but they end up going separate ways. Then the 'talkies' are introduced. Peppy Miller works her way up the silent trail and into talking movies. Valentin, however, claims that it's a gimmick and fights to preserve his silent films. But what do the audience want?

'You're right, this page 3 model does look like you.'
The acting in this movie is some of the best I've seen for a long time. Both main characters are up for Oscar nominations and both are very worthy. While it could be argued that Bérénice Bejo deserves a Best Actress nomination rather than a Best Supporting Actress nomination, she has a far higher chance of winning in that category and she truly deserves high recognition. But Jean Dujardin really steals the show. Without any form of vocal expression, he shows every emotion and thought going through Valentin's mind. his use of facial expression borders perfectly on exaggerated and realistic; it makes everything stand out more without seeming odd. He definitely has a very realistic chance of winning the Oscar. I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed by a performance. Certainly one of the most likeable characters in recent cinema with a brilliant character progression. Also, the dogs, Uggie, Dash, and Dude (mainly Uggie) were better performers than any of the cast of a Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movie. In fact, they were the best animal performers I've ever seen.

Why Didn't Peppy go to the dance?
She had no body to go with.

This movie should seem completely alien to contemporary cinema. Black and white, no sound, these sort of things evolved and became the cinema today. However, here we are with one of the most captivating films of recent years. Some part of this is due to the incredible score that acts adds character to the entire movie. It tells you how to feel. It tells you how to respond. It touches your soul... (Too much?) Whether it uses cues from Vertigo's soundtrack or not, it literally makes the movie, as, I suppose, all silent movies' scores should. The delicate silence in certain moments when there is no tinkering piano are made all the more effective. Strangely enough, the rare use of sound in the movie, seem like the largest and most empty silences. It's almost deafening. The camera work, at points, is absolutely incredible. From grand shots of theatres or stairways, to close, intimate shots of one the protagonists. It is also edited together wonderfully and includes some of the most surreal moments of film around.

A completely absorbing piece of cinema. From hilarious to heartbreaking, this film has it all. Some of the most talented actors, one of the most compelling scores, and one of the most well structured plots of recent years. I take my hat off to director Michel Hazanavicius. Well done, sir.

Best bit? The noisy, nightmarish dream sequence. We are thrown into Valentin's mind and experience what he fears.

I would also like to point out that I think I have fallen in love with Bérénice Bejo. She's just stunning.

On another added note, the bloopers are as classic as the film. Check them out here:

No comments:

Post a Comment