It’s a mouthful I know, and for a lot of people sounds less than inviting. Its pisses me off the amount of people who get put off or wont watch it because it’s a little different. I just want to shake them and say “This is an experience that should not be missed, god damn it!”
The Artist at first glance might seem like a gimmick, employing old film techniques from a by-gone era to tell a story about the end of a Hollywood Golden Age. But far from that The Artist is a cheery, heart-warming homage to the silent film era that indulges in its worship of Hollywood as it details the life and turbulent career of ‘silent’ film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). At the dawn of the ‘Talkie’ Valentin is cast aside. He is unable to adapt and unwilling to accept the end of silent films so is left behind by his once adoring fans and the film studio that made him.
On-the-out and down on his luck Valentin has to watch as the young and excitable Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an adoring and loyal fan of Valentins, rises to fame as a Hollywood sweetheart and film star. It’s a beautiful love story, not just between two people, but between a man and his love of cinema. It’s no wonder its got some serious Oscar buzz going on.
The cast is incredible but it’s Jean Dujardin who gives the winning performance. With his infectious smile that lights up the screen, and an on-screen charm that’s irresistible, it’s impossible not to get drawn in by him. He’s such a pleasure to watch; completely outshining the supporting cast.
Though it’s silent the film speaks volumes, telling an incredible story delivered by a delightful cast. And of course a special mention must go to Uggie the dog, Valentin’s lovable companion who gives a show stealing performance as Valentins biggest fan. Uggie really is Valentins best friend (I want one, I want one, I want one!). John Goodman (Al Zimmer) and Bérénice Bejo also gave remarkable performances, but I felt Bejo’s (Peppy Miller) relationship with Valentin lacked palpable chemistry which for me was the weakest point of the film. And in fact this was the only weak point in the film!
But from its weakest point to the films strongest The Artist would be nothing without Ludovic Bource’s orchestral scores which are the perfect accompaniment to such an animated and joyous film. It’s up-lifting and fun. And were it not for the theatre full of people I would have done a bit of toe tapping and dancing myself. The music was a character of its own and without such an incredible score the film would no doubt have fallen flat on its face. But instead this is one of the years finest films. And although its only January, and there are a lot of promising films set for a 2012 release, this will be a tough one to beat. Don’t be put off because it’s a silent film. Actions speak louder than words and this film is the perfect example of that; and its climactic end is a most rewarding finish.
Jean Dujardin is top of my Oscar list. (There are so many great animals in films that there should be an Oscar category just for them. If so then Uggie’s got my vote too)