The Artist (2011) directed by Michel Hazanavicius

So I decided this weekend to see what all the fuss was about regarding The Artist. The words I heard were MAGICAL – INCANDESCENT – REMARKABLE. I always remain skeptical when I hear such praise vaunted on a picture. When I get to actually see the film, my concern is that it will not live up to the hype. However in this case, the praise is well deserved and well earned.

The Artist is set in Hollywood at the point where the silent and sound era converged. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a larger than life matinee idol of the silent era. A chance meeting with upstart Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) seems to be the point where both of their fortunes change. As Peppy makes a start in the film industry, George offers her advice that she will not forget.

With the dawn of the sound era, George Valentin popularity is on the decline; one final effort on his part to capture the glory days – he becomes the sole creative force behind his final outing, Tears of Love. The result is complete public rejection, financial ruin and the dissolution of his marriage (his wife is portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller). All he has left is a few artifacts of his past life and the companionship and loyalty of his chauffeur (James Cromwell) and precocious dog.

As George’s world comes tumbling down around him, Peppy Miller’s star is on the rise. She becomes a darling at the dawn of the sound age. But she never forgets the man who helped her at the very beginning of her career.

I do not want to give away too many of the plot details after this point, for fear that it will ruin the experience for you; that is a big clue that I think you should see it.

You will leave this film feeling many things – among them that this is a remarkable feat this is, especially in the days of the Hollywood blockbusting machine. It is great to see that there is an audience who clamor for an imaginative, well made, beautifully photographed and expertly performed throwback.

© The Weinstein Company

Granted as much as I am a fan of classic cinema, I never was hugely into silent films; I could probably count the number of films I have seen my two hands. But there is something, dare I say transcendent and magical, about the notion that so much can be conveyed with looks, expressions and physicality – no words necessary. To add to the experience, the orchestral accompaniment made me imagine I was sitting in the cinema of the 1920’s. There definitely is something to be said about the importance of a musical score to the film experience. And nowhere is this more evident in silent cinema.

This picture is a lovely ode to that bygone era.

The Artist is directed by Michel Hazanavicius and is a French production with English title cards.

Comments

  1. This is one of my must sees for the holiday season. Your review has me even more jazzed to it. Thanks.

  2. Wow raving review Iba! This movie still hasn’t come in my area but hopefully, it does soon 😀

  3. Hi, iluv and company:

    Superb choice of a film that I am envious that you’ve seen!

    Excellent review, too.

    ‘The Artist’ is definitely on my list of films to see. Sumptuous, clean cut B&W to fall in love with. That screams for a live orchestra in the pit to heighten the experience.

    • Yeah I finally broke down and saw it. I have so many movies that I would like to see before year’s end. I am not sure that I am going to be able to do it. A film a weekend will not get it done 🙂

  4. Hi!

    I am so glad you liked this one. I gave it a full 5 satrs in my recent review… completely charming and not only a perfect homage to the era, but also a fantastic example of it!!

    I have added you to my daily blogging rounds, as I some how hadn’t got you on there… sorry!!

    Scott

  5. This one just nabbed a bunch of nominations for Golden Globes, hardly surprising!

    “This picture is a lovely ode to that bygone era.” Oh man that sentence makes me want to see this even more, Iba. I hope this will arrive in my city soon.

  6. I will definitely be seeing this! I’m glad you gave it a positive review – I didn’t see how you could do otherwise. It just seems – even from the trailer – such a magical movie. When I first heard about it a couple of months ago, I was instantly smitten. I’m easy that way. 🙂

    I’ll probably have to see it when it comes to Netflix, but that’s okay. I can wait. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on all the movies everyone has been seeing this year.

    I’m not used to your new website experience yet…It’s a bit confusing to an old fogie like me, but I’ll get with the program eventually.

    Happy Holidays, kiddo.

  7. Hey there,

    I found you while surfing through other film blogs. I’m trying to get acquainted with the whole medium after about 8 months of blogging and well, I am just beginning to really try to spread my wings and find people out there that share my interests and have something of value to say about the art of film, or anything related to the arts.

    In any case, I am definitely looking forward to watching “The Artist”. I don’t think I have read a single negative review yet and, for now, seems to be one of the clear frontrunners heading into the awards season.
    I’m trying to get friends interested in joining me on a trip to the theater to watch it, but I’m a bit of an outcast among my friends when it comes to my interest on these type of films.

    Looking forward to begin to share my thoughts with you on film. Feel free to stop by my very modest blog. I haven’t really had the patience to make it a little better looking, but I’ll eventually get there.

    Niels

    • Hello Niels and welcome to the wonderful world of movie blogging! One thing that you might want to do is to join LAMB (Large Association of Movie Bloggers): largeassmovieblogs.blogspot.com/ – it is a great resource.

      RE: The Artist – The thing that I think helps The Artist is that it is not of now (the present) and it is a silent that has no modern relevant peer (not that I can think of anyway). Besides that it is just a well made picture 🙂

      I look forward to reading your blog – a quick look at it just now revealed that you will be discussing Submarine, a film which I saw and enjoyed in many ways 🙂

      Keep it up you will find it very rewarding indeed!

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