THE ARTIST [2011] movie review

February 3, 2012 · Print This Article

It is a rare pleasure to view of movie that appears to be what I call, “handmade.”  THE ARTIST is such a movie, and not just because it is the first silent film I have ever seen in my life nor because it is in black and white, but because every frame on screen is on purpose, crafted, and punctuated by a score that provides emotion so differently than endless dialogue does.

I have no idea where they found Jean Dujardin to play the lead character, George Valentin, but it looked like he was from a different era himself, and that he was a veteran of silent movies.  I found his performance to be mesmerizing.

It did take quite some time to get used to there being no spoken dialogue.  My ears kept straining to hear words that were not there, then my eyes took over trying to read lips, and finally I just watched.  Once the viewer is able to do this, the immersion into the world of the late 1920s and early 1930s provided by THE ARTIST is complete.

Valentin is the biggest actor in Hollywood(land) filling that role to the delight of his fans.  Movies are silent, acting is exaggerated, and the cast appears on stage after movie premieres.  By chance he meets an energetic young woman, appropriately named Peppy, and gives her some key pieces of advice that ultimately lead to her replacing him as the toast of the town as the movie industry abruptly shifts from silent films, to talkies.

Valentin is not interested in speaking on film.  From that point on I truly had no idea what to expect from the movie, it was just so different.  There is no dialogue, just watching Valentin become more and more anonymous, though ever by his side is his faithful dog and man servant.  Valentin’s pride stops him from evolving even though Peppy still holds a fondness for him.

THE ARTIST is not a tragedy though.  It is a marvel, a comedy, an intimate look into what happens to an artist when his craft is no longer wanted, and ultimately about accepting change.

THE ARTIST is one of the ten best movies of 2011.


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