Film: The Artist
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Malcolm McDowell
Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.
What I thought of it:
In an incredibly bold move, Hazanavicius has eschewed the big-budget reboots, remkes and franchises to bring us something both fresh that harks back to the earlier days of cinema complete with intertitles. In looking at the difficulties of a silent movie star to adapt to performaing in “talkies”, one realises that the modern filmstars will have had similar difficulties in protraying the exaggerated mannerisms of the silent movie era – something completely alien to today’s more natural style of acting.
Dujardin and Bejo both pull off this feat magnificently. Dujardin looks like a cross between David Niven and Vincent Price, with the elegance of Fred Astaire and the charm of Clark Gable (all stars of the later era of film-making, but no less important in their oeuvre). Bejo’s face perfectly encapsulates both the leading ladies of the silent era and the early talkies, with her “peppy” style truly living up to her character’s name, Peppy Miller.
It’s beautifully shot and the lack of sound other than the dramatic and theatrical score is wondrful. There is, however, one very clever scene that involves sound – George Valentin’s dream sequence – that serves to juxtapose his dilemma and inability to make the transition from silence to sound.
I can see why this film has been sweeping the awards season this year, and it really does deserve the recognition for stepping away from the “safe” arena of the blockbuster and giving us something spectacularly different. It’s not my favourite of the Oscar nominated films, but it’s pretty close and I think this one will once again win the coveted Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor as it did so recently at the BAFTAS. I can also see it scooping Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design, but I think Bejo will miss out on the Best Actress statue as she suffers the same misfortune as Michelle Williams in being pitted against Streep in one of her best ever performances as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
This is a must-see for fans of cinema and film history as well as for those who just enjoy seeing a really great film. It’s a joy to see and it will surely be seen as a timeless masterpiece and a classic over time. It is a pity that more production companies don’t take the risk and dare to be as different in their projects as this, because the results here are nothing short of stunning.
My hubby’s review HERE.
I realise I have rated several Oscar-nominated films as 5/5 and this is very unusual for me, but they are all deserving of the highest rating I can give. There is very little in it and they all have the same rating, however here they are in order of my personal preference:
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- The Artist
- My Week with Marilyn
- The Iron Lady
Of course, this is only my personal preference and will most likely not be reflected in the choices of the judging panel of the Academy Awards, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone wondered which films I enjoyed the most of those I had rated so highly.