This movie is a must see. Not because it’s silent, or novel. It is a movie where the actors rediscover the art of acting once again. Where the subtle is beautiful, where the twitch, the gentle curve of an eyebrow, the slouch of the shoulder and the blink of the eye conveys more than an hour of film. The story line is clichéd to the point of archaic, but that is not the point. The point is these are actors and actresses who are so sure of their craft, and what they are doing that they cannot help but do it.
The main character, played by Jean Dujardin, is George Valentin, a silent movie star who is caught short when the talking film industry takes over. We follow his struggle, as he sees his young paramour, Peppy Miller, rise from obscurity to superstardom. George is a proud, wonderfully played character who is never seen without his dog, Uggie. Everything you’ve heard about this amazing dog is true. He truly has the emotional range of any human character, and is exceptionally funny. The news that he is to retire should send a collective sigh across the film industry. Ms. Berenice Bejo as the glorious Peppy, is a joy to watch, she is emotional, full of sass, melancholic and beautifully aglow, as she drops straight in from the 30s. A small shout out must be said for James Cromwell, who plays the Butler, Clifton, I’ve seen him in so many movies and in each and every one of them he lights up the screen with his warmth and wisdom. The movie is shot, in firm defiance of all modern convention in a small square box, and is scored brilliantly, with leitmotifs we have heard everywhere and love.
I love The Artist, not only because it harkens back to a simpler time, but it allows us to rediscover a golden age of cinema. More importantly serves as a timely reminder for us, that words mean nothing when they are not truly felt and deeply conveyed. My only fear is that this film will spawn a series of imitators, that detract from the beauty of this film, but will never capture the perfection we have found here.
4.5/5 Stars – Exceptional film, brilliantly acted, with a cute animal sidekick.