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 of this delightful motion picture was criticised for his idea of making a silent film 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 blockbuster movies that have barraged are cinemas in recent years, and I can definitely approve that this film will be successful for those who have not yet experienced a silent film. Simply one of 2011’s finest!
So what is this acclaimed film all about? Our film opens in 1927 with famous actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky's the limit - major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of their interlinked destinies.
The cinematography is absorbing and everything is gorgeously shot. Everything was so convincing I forgot I was watching a film from 2011. Everything has been executed so perfectly. The costumes, the old Hollywood sets, the cars, the streets, everything! Half the time it felt like an authentic 20’s silent film and I kept forgetting it was made in 2011. The music was beautifully done and is one of the elements that give it the most authenticity. Whether it is that song, “pennies from heaven”, or the opening sequence, or even the boogie-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 is how brilliant this film is, and how much I do not know any of the makers involved 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 Chocolate Factory”, who in this film, does an excellent job as the attention loving with of Valentin. She also reminds you of Singin in the Rain’s Lina Lamont. I can definitely see potential in these actors in the future and I will be checking out their work.
The acting was golden and convincing. Berenice Bejo pulls off her role magically, and she would certainly give Helen Kane a run for her money with her stunning beauty. Her performance was emotionally driven, energetic and full of life. The ley thing that was enjoyable about seeing her was her great mime acting and expressions. With silent films, those two things are extremely important. Movement and facial expression is used to the strength 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 delectable Jean Dujardin with the looks of Errol Flynn and the charm of Charlie Chaplin. His performance as George Valentin is simply one of 2011’s finest performances with wit, humour, sadness and great finesse.
As a silent film lover, and enthusiast of cinema the film was exuberant, fun, charming and astoundingly entertaining. It captures the early days of Hollywood with excellent grace, and seeing talkies sweep cinema in the film definitely pulls a grin to my face, in loving memory of “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 a fresh film that overlooks the hard times of silent filmmakers.
This may not be my favourite film of all time, but it is up their somewhere. I will go as far as saying that, if you do not like this, even just a little, you are crazy; especially if you are a filmgoer. That is quite how strongly I feel about this film. The film has flawless charm and a classic plot that absorbs you right to the end with heart-warming emotion and beautiful imagery. There is too much charm not to love this film. It has a classic story that retains the spirit of a great silent film, but still has a great vibrancy and energy to it.
The cinema in which I saw it in I praise for running the film, as it is the only place within 100 miles it is playing for me. In addition, it was an Art House cinema. There were no more than 80 people and the atmosphere was magical. Despite my friends and I being almost the youngest (16-17) I was happy to see people appreciated the film. Even one of my friends said a tear caught his eye in one of the films most tense moments. People laughed at the little jokes, and I heard discussion of the film as I walked out. The Artist has been one of the best cinema experiences I have ever had with a film that showed such simplistic beauty in its emotion and humour.
It has the poignancy and simplicity films lack today. Not today modern cinema has not had brilliant films (The Social Network, Inception, Slumdog Millionaire etc.), but romance stories have definitely taken things up a notch in complexity. This film gets to the roots of emotion, making it genuinely accessible and breath-taking to watch. Despite the characters not having a literal voice, through expression, gesture and body language, the film definitely has touching, surprising, funny and emotional moments.
The film has had six golden globe nominations, including best picture (comedy or musical), and with awards all over institutions, it is sweeping the floor. Popular among critics, and audiences 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 wonderful homage and reminder to silent cinema, a time that should not be forgotten. Young or old, this is a must-see film and is likely not to disappoint with its crowd-pleasing charm, beautifully shot imagery and classy acting. The Artist is a poignant homage to early cinema that is likely to impress 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