- Silent Film/Intertitle
Producers: Thomas Langmann, and Emmanuel Monamat
Writer: Michel Hazanavicus
Actors: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, and John Goodman
Cinematography: Guilliaume Schiffman
Music: Ludovic Bource
Editing: Anne-Sophie Bion, and Michel Hazanavicus
In this stunning film that honestly seems like it could have been from the 1930s, silent film actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a theatrical guy whose audience adores him. After the release of his most recent blockbuster while hamming it up in front of the press, a young lady bumps into him and he makes the best of the situation by posing with her. This beautiful girl, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), is inspired by her run in with fame and pursues a career in acting. The two work on the same movie and share some special moments, but soon after, things start to change. Talkies made their way to popularity and there is suddenly no use for an actor who won’t talk, Valentin finds himself in a failing marriage and unemployed. We witness his struggle, and eventually his downfall. Luckily his biggest fan also happens to be Hollywood’s newest ingenue who will do anything to protect him. And it all ends with a fantastic tap dance sequence.
Jean Dujardin is an absolute classically handsome man, his confidence and charm come through the silence and he captures the attention of everyone including his gorgeous costar Bérénice Bejo. Let me tell you, this woman is absolutely breathtaking, she is the perfect match for a movie so focused on gestures and facial expressions. Her movement is graceful and elegant and the lack of spoken dialogue is no match for her charisma. The two compliment each other and create a captivating story worthy of the many awards it was given. We watch the two characters develop a relationship that only French hands could manage. Very reminiscent of another time and place, they transport you entirely alongside the brilliant original score.
Speaking of the score, Ludovic Bource created the brilliant music. Using the very distinct tones of the ’20s and ’30s, he wisps you away into a time of yore. Primarily only composing music for shorts before this, he spreads his wings in taking on not only a feature length, but one that is so dependent on the music to set the scene and tell us how we should react to the action. Bource was awarded the 2011 Breakout Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association.
If there is one thing that is difficult to capture in costume, it is the essence of an era, especially such a prolific time in our nation’s history. The clothing was very distinct in those times, and costume designer Mark Bridges absolutely nailed it. With an impressive resume including 8 Mile, There Will Be Blood, The Fighter, and many more there is not doubt this man is a genius. Making a natural looking wardrobe for a character in a period piece is a challenge, and he takes it with ease, proving that he is the guy to call. I look forward to his work in the upcoming movie The Master, which is set in the 1950s.
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I cannot stress enough how everyone must see this. A true instant classic, the love story is such a simple one, an old fashioned good time. The Artist is one to watch with the whole family, and then again and again. George and Peppy’s chemistry is alluring to watch and will keep you wanting more. As we watch their relationship grow and fall apart you start urging them on, silent films induce audience participation, and I was definitely talking to the characters. Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicus, he created a beautiful world that truly shows the turmoils of the progression of technology. He even includes how the stock market crash affected everyone, not just the middle class. The French influence is very visible all throughout, every aspect of it was graceful and romantic.
Keeping the attention of an audience is a much more difficult feat today than it once was; we expect explosions, and nudity around every corner. It takes something special for a black and white silent film to capture the eyes of today, and that something is definitely included in The Artist. Including the much needed element of comedy and cheesy overacting, it keeps you laughing along with the actors. This was part of the reason movies were popular in the ’20s — people needed a reason to smile and something to keep their minds of their financial troubles. The witty intertitle kept you informed just enough, but part of the fun was making up your own dialogue.
Overall Score: 5 Stars out of 5
As you notice, there is no Bad section, I truly adored every part of this movie. The only bad thing, is that there isn’t another one to watch. I’ll be searching for some classics to watch now that I’ve gotten a taste. This same feelings occurred the first time I watched Casablanca.
Buy It, Rent It, Skip It:
Buy It, absolutely positively buy this movie. I rented it this time, but I’ll be hitting the store soon enough to buy it. I can’t imagine my collection being complete without it.