I never did get a chance to see the movie that won the Academy Award in 2012 for best film, so when The Artist was released Tuesday on DVD I wanted to see if all the accolades were deserved. My feelings are mixed.
The Artist is Director Michel Hazanavicius’ homage to the silent films of the 20’s and 30’s, which is filmed in black and white and has surprisingly little dialogue printed on the intertitle cards for the viewer to follow. The storyline line has matinee idle George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent movie icon in the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks genre, confronting the coming of “talkies” (movies with sound). In a moment of serendipity, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a wannabe actress, bumps into Valentin after a movie premier and as a result gets a small part in a movie. Studio boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman) disapproves of having Berenice in his films, but Valentin insists. Berenice soon becomes popular with the audience and she quickly moves up the credit list until she is chosen as a leading lady in a “talkie” by the studio. Meanwhile, Valentin refuses to get on board with the new trend and holds the line that true artistry can only be achieved in silent film. He breaks away from the studio and finances a silent movie of his own which flops and leaves him destitute. That is about all I can tell you without ruining the movies plot.
When this movie first came out, I thought to myself “who would pay money to go to a theater to see a silent film in black and white?”, and I am sure I wasn’t the only one. But after viewing the movie, I have a different opinion. This movie is quite different than anything you have seen before and I would have loved to seen the pitch that Hazanvicius and his colleagues made to the studio when they came up with the idea. The acting is so well done that little dialogue, either verbal or written, is needed. The viewer can read the countenance of the actors and have no problem following the story line: the acting is done through the expressions of the face. Jean Dujardin is especially effective in demonstrating a plethora of emotion, from euphoria to distress, by facial manifestations
Film buffs are going to love this movie. There is a bit of comedy from Chaplin; a dose of dancing by Gene Kelley; and even a Citizen Kane-like storyline. I agree that the movie needed to be nominated for best movie for its uniqueness, yet I thought Albert Nobbs, Hugo, and The Descendents, were better movies (just my opinion). Regardless, I would suggest seeing it: the film is very well done. (Rated PG, 100 min)
My Rating: 4of 5 “Talkies”