Monday, January 16, 2012

The Artist (2011)

 Six months ago, if you had asked me if I were interested in seeing a silent black and white film...a NEW film...I would have turned you down.  I mean really?  In the days of big budget, special effects and CGI, who would even have the guts to make such a thing anyway?  


Michel Hazanavicious, backed by the Weinstein Company, that's who.  And it appears that the director's boldness has paid off in spades.  Jean Dujardin has already won the Best Actor Award in Cannes, where it premiered, and has been nominated for six Golden Globes in 2011, the most any one movie received.  


Dujardin plays George Valentin, a successful but self-absorbed silent movie star who runs into a Hollywood hopeful Peppy Miller (played by an ebullient Berenice Bejo), making a random but fated connection.


As Peppy earns her way into the movies through her dancing and contagious smile, and starts to climb her way to stardom through the emergence of sound film, George becomes a has-been and loses everything he owns.  That connection between the two actors is never broken though, and in a melodramatic and heart-warming climax, this one will leave you with a great big grin on your face knowing you have just witnessed something special.



It was amazing to me how much you can understand from good acting and facial expressions, devoid of words.  After perhaps 10 minutes of hearing nothing but music, I completely forgot this was a silent film and was swept away by the romance and nostalgia of it all.  George was dashing, Peppy was gorgeous (she absolutely LIGHTS up the screen), and to add flavor there was even a loyal little Jack Russell terror and a devoted chauffeur (James Cromwell).  We even were treated with a little John Goodman as the studio director.  
  
I was also impressed with the director's clever slight-of-hand at using sound within the movie to symbolize the materialization of "talkies".  I won't go into the details, but was delighted with this creative little twist.


Also contrary to everything modern cinema is about, the movie only ran an hour and 40 minutes.  Perfect.  Admittedly, it has its share of predictability, in keeping with silent movies of the 1920's (thinking of the woman tied up on the train tracks only to be saved at the last minute by her knight in shining armor) but that is exactly why you will leave the theater smiling.  This is what movies used to be about.


The rating is PG-13 for one fun bird-flipping scene, some alcohol consumption and a threat of violence.  My kids (aged 13 and 12) loved it.  The release of The Artist has been limited thus far (only shown for one week at our only indie theater), but when it gets multiple Oscar nominations (and I promise you it will) there may be a chance for a wider audience to experience this magical film.


13 comments:

Jenny said...

I think this one won for best drama motion picture last night. I also wouldn't think I'd want to see this, but all the clips make it look great!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have really wondered about this one. Did you see it with your sister? I don't know where her blog is - what did she think?

Nymeth said...

A daring choice for sure, but it's good to hear it worked! I'm usually years behind when it comes to films, but I'd love to watch this at some point.

bermudaonion said...

I've never even heard of this one - I'll have to see if it's showing in my area.

Zibilee said...

I also would have had the same reaction as you did when thinking to see this film. I do love some old black and whites, but the fact that this is a silent movie might have held me back. It's a good thing that I read your review and saw how much you loved it, as now I will be looking to watch it at some point as well. Great review today!

ds said...

I have put this on my "Must See" list. You're quite right--it deserves to have a larger audience. Thanks, Sandy.

Trisha said...

I have heard absolutely fantastic things about this one from some very trusted movie sources, so clearly I shall have to watch it. Some day. Some day when I actually get to watch movies again....

Jenners said...

I was so ready to skip this … like you, I thought "Why would I want to see that?" But then I saw a preview for it and started to change my mind. Now that I've read your review, I'm thinking "I'd be a fool not to see this."

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I just saw it yesterday and I loved it! You forget how much can be said with simple facial expressions. We rely so heavily on special effects now, it was so refreshing to see something so different! Plus the dog was just fantastic.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I had not heard of this movie until I saw it won a Golden Globe Award. It does look like my kind of movie. I love anything nostalgic! I will have to see it!

Julie P. said...

I was just reading about this movie and my husband was like, "NO WAY!"

Kathleen said...

This one is definitely on my list to see with my movie loving BFF.

Chrissy said...

I will definitely go see it. This is how it all originated (blank and white).