Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Review of The Artist

The Artist is a 2011 French romantic drama directed by Michel Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The film was nominated for six Golden Globes (the most of any 2011 film), and won three: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Original Score, and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dujardin. It’s currently nominated for ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius, Best Actor for Dujardin, and Best Supporting Actress for Bejo. It has also been nominated for/won a slew of other awards, but there are just too many to name.

Many “casual moviegoers” are going to be (or already are) skeptical of this film. Why, you ask? It’s a silent black-and-white film, making it a love letter to the olden days of Hollywood. Taking place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, it focuses on silent film star George Valentin who was at the top of his career, but then fades into near oblivion as silent film falls out of the limelight and is replaced by talkies, which are emerging in popularity. Valentin is unable  to make the transition due to his stubbornness, which opens up Hollywood to new and fresh young talent, particularly for Peppy Miller, who idolized Valentin. Interestingly, it was Valentin who helped her get her big break. The Artist is a good ol’ rise and fall story, and is beautifully shown through the relationship between the two.

The performances in this film are OUTSTANDING. Jean Dujardin is a shoo-in to win the Oscar come Feb 26th. His ability to portray every kind of emotion humanly possible without saying a single word is AWESOME. It really makes you think about how much acting has changed over the years due to technology. Bérénice Bejo, who (fun fact) happens to be married to the director, Michel Hazanavicius (lucky!!), gives an amazing performance as well, and I will definitely be rooting for her at the Oscars. Did I mention she is stunningly beautiful? There are also many other great members of the cast who you will recognize, as the leads are the only relatively unknown actors in the film. Additionally as a side note, Uggie the dog is AMAZING as well!

As I mentioned earlier, this film may not sound appealing to the masses because not only is it in black-and-white, but it’s silent as well. Don’t let that fool you. This is a special piece of cinema that EVERYONE can enjoy. The beautiful music, dance numbers, and heartfelt performances will make you feel moved and keep your eyes glued to the screen. You will forget that there is no dialogue. As a major film fan, as much as I wanted to see this film I was afraid that it was going to be over-hyped, but boy was I wrong.

With all that being said I highly suggest you check this film out and see what it is all about. You have been warned though: the film is shot in black-and-white and it is silent. Some people have demanded refunds because they didn’t know this. (Are they living under a rock?) I am happy Michel Hazanavicius followed his dream to make this film. It is a true homage to old Hollywood, and I hope it inspires other storytellers to do the same thing. I know this is a bold statement, but this is one of my favorite movies of all time. Maybe because it’s something different, something original, and from an era I’ve never known, but everything about it spoke to me. I am by no means saying that I only want to see silent films from here on out (as you won’t find a bigger fan of big budget franchise films than me), but boy did I love this piece of film making. The title for this film truly is perfect, as this is “art” at its finest. Nothing will get in this film’s way from bringing home the little gold man!

6 out of 5 Stars

The Artist (2011)
La Petite Reine
PG-13, 100 Minutes

Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of The Artist

Do you ever wish you could travel back in time and live in another generation? Experience what life was like back in another lifetime and view some of the entertainment that our ancestors once enjoyed? Very few period movies released now-a-days actually have the ability to transport the audience to a whole new world, one that we would otherwise would not be able to see. However, I have found a movie that not only transports you as back in time, but it also makes you want to stay there. The Artist transports the viewer back to the golden age of silent films, allowing you to experience a truly unique movie-going experience which you won’t soon forget.

A mix of two of my favorite old movies, A Star is Born and Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist tells the story of silent film star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) who at the time is the biggest silent star in the world. At one of the premieres to his films he has a chance meeting with a fan and struggling actress named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). The next day George is able to get Peppy a role in the film he is working on. However, Hollywood is changing over from silent films to talking pictures, and George is unable to find work while Peppy becomes a bigger and bigger star. Now fully unemployed, George’s life begins to fall apart. His wife leaves him, he loses his house, and soon the only companionship he has is a dog (played by the adorable Uggie). Will George be able to bring his career back to the star level it once was on? Will he ever find happiness in another person again?

This movie made me so happy. Never have I ever seen a movie in the theaters that made me as genuinely happy as this movie did from the beginning  to the end. Even including the more serious parts, this movie made me smile. Maybe it was the environment I was in (I saw it in a single picture movie house, sitting in the balcony), but this movie just made me so happy. It felt true to other silent films I have seen in the past and seemed like it could have been an “Old Hollywood” film just from its feel alone. Jean Dujardin had a very Gene Kelly-like quality about him, and every time he smiled I thought of him. He just oozed personality and charm, which is very difficult considering there is no dialogue. He was able to convince the audience that he was in fact a struggling silent movie actor awash in a confusing new world of sound. He deserves any accolade he gets for this film and should be preparing his shocked winner face/speech for the Oscar, because if there is any sanity left in the world he will be rewarded for this truly unique performance. The only actor who out-acted him was Uggie, but sadly dogs can’t be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Berenice Bejo was divine as the up-and-coming Peppy and really lit up any scene she was in.

Although it was a mixture of two great films’ plots, the storyline seemed to be really fresh and delved into uncharted territory. Maybe it was the silent aspect, but it seemed like it was a new story. The direction was beautifully done, and Michel Hazanavicius deserves a lot of credit for not only this but for being the lead writer of the film as well. Additionally, the fact that the movie is in black and white just made it that much more special. Black and white adds an extra ounce of quality to any movie, and it was really cool to see it used in this day and age. The music, more important than ever due to the lack of dialogue, still fit the film perfectly and really enhanced the story telling and helped move the story along.

All and all, I think The Artist is a rare movie that deserves the title of perfect. From the acting, to the direction, to the music, everything in this movie excited me. I think it will soon be considered a modern classic. I know a lot of people are put off by watching a silent film, but please don’t stop that from allowing you to experience this true joy of a film. Go out and see it!

7 out of 5 stars

The Artist (2012)
 La Petite Reine
PG-13, 100 Minutes