Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Artist (2011)

Set in Hollywood at the time when silent films were losing popularity because the “Talkies” were taking off in big way (late 20s early 30s), The Artist tells the story of George Valentin; a very famous silent movie star struggling to come to terms with this enormous change in film-making.

In short, the film is an absolute delight, wonderful. As it is set in the era of silent films, the film itself is silent, mostly. As a result director Michel Hazanavicius uses lots of traditional film-making tricks to tell the story (no special effects, no CGI, no colour); and the result is amazing. There is of course the occasional card telling us what a character is saying, but for the most part the story is driven by a superb score by Ludovic Bource. Needless to say, equally important are the wonderful performances by the two leads Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo as the young “talkie” girl Peppy Miller. These guys are so compelling that after ¾ of the film I suddenly remembered that I was actually watching a silent film. Jean and Bérénice are supported by great performances from James Cromwell and John Goodman, whose crinkly face can convey so much without saying anything. All this before we get to the dog, who would surely give the dog from Beginners a run for his money as best canine in cinema from the past 12 months!

I wanted to see this film out of interest, as I had heard so many good things about it. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, or to be sucked in by the characters so much. It is mesmerising, heartbreaking and funny. A truly surprising and brilliant film, a real celebration of cinema, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.