Movie Review: ‘The Artist’
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Plot: 1927 Hollywood and George Valentine is the biggest star on the screen. When sound technology takes over the industry Valentine’s reluctance to join the new era sees him being quickly forgotten by the public. As he sinks lower and lower he sees Peppy Miller, a girl he helped get a foot in the door, rise to stardom.
Review: Whilst it’s certainly no great feat to recreate the look and feel of the silent films of old (Dr. Plonk did a similar thing a few years ago and was promptly forgotten), The Artist is to be praised for breathing new life into the style through beautiful cinematography and a heartfelt story.
The brilliant cinematography that somehow manages to evoke the decades old film style without sacrificing the modern technologies and practices that have become an essential part of our cinematic language. Hazanavicius does manage to use his camera to communicate the story to the audience whenever the actors cannot simply do it alone, and the use of texts on placards feels as though it’s only being used as a last resort and not a crutch.
If there’s one thing that The Artist is worth watching for it’s the performances, especially from Dujardin. Not only is he a fine actors he certainly carries with him the presence of a big movie star and seems custom designed to look the part of a 1920s swashbuckling hero. As the story continues on and Valentine is facing the harsh reality of the fickle film industry and the audiences short memories he brings across the crushing depression of the character with as much gusto as he does the hero at the height of his fame.
As the movie winds up the truth behind Valentine’s resistance to the sound revolution comes forth in a nicely sly moment. It does also come with a drawback – once the reason has been revealed and sound flows into the film it winds up feeling as though the ‘silent film’ motif is a bit of a gimmick. It is hard to imagine the movie working quite as well without it though.
Score: TEN outta TEN