‘The Artist’ Review.

The 2011 film, The Artist, received a lot of hype. The question is, did it live up to it? I think it did. In a cinematic world of CGI, teen romance and supernatural creatures, the producers of  The Artist chose to make a silent film about 1920s cinema, shot in black and white. How could such a film be successful? The answer, as I see it, is that it is because it is so cleverly and lovingly made, and is wonderfully refreshing.

The first half of the plot is fairly lighthearted: successful silent film star, George Valentin, revels in fame and applause as sassy young Peppy Miller attempts to make it big in Hollywood. However, the tide turns as silent films make way for the new-fangled talkies. Some actors managed to make the transfer to talking pictures, whilst others fell to the wayside as the popularity of silent films dwindled. George Valentin fell into the latter category and his whole career collapsed. Peppy Miller, however became the new darling of the screen. Would George Valentin ever be able to regain his fame in this changed world? Thankfully, with the help of Peppy, he did. It does, however, make me wonder what ever happened to Lina Lamont after she was humiliated at the end of Singin’ in the Rain (1952)…

The Artist was beautifully shot, featuring wonderful costumes and the music was lovely. The lead actors, Jean Dujardin (George) and Bérénice Bejo (Peppy) looked like real 1920s film stars. I also thought that Dujardin bore a likeness to Gene Kelly. The film was very well acted – the actors communicated everything really well and I found the lack of dialogue no hindrance to my understanding of the film. I sympathised with George’s plight as he was cast out into oblivion and kept hoping that he would find his feet again in cinema. In contrast, I enjoyed seeing snippets from Peppy’s films as her star rose.

Three of my favourite scenes were: 1) Waltz for Peppy: George is attempting to shoot a scene from his new film, but keeps getting distracted when the dances with Peppy. 2) Peppy visits George in hospital after the fire and opens the film canister that he was found clutching to his chest to discover that the one film he’d wanted to save was that which contained the aforementioned waltz scene. 3) Peppy steals into George’s dressing room and embraces his tuxedo jacket, pretending it’s him holding her, before George walks in and catches her in the act.

The film had a very satisfying ending with Peppy blackmailing her producer into giving George a chance to prove himself as a talking picture star. The last scene sees George and Peppy shooting a dance scene for this new film, and as they finish triumphantly, sound enters the film and we hear them breathing heavily. The producer declares that it is “wonderful!” and asks if they could manage another take. George replies with a grin, “my pleasure”, revealing his French accent.

Finally, special mention must go to the adorable dog Uggie – he practically stole the film!

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and can’t wait to buy it on DVD so that I can watch it again!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brooke
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 11:51:51

    I love that part when the car runs into the tree. Then when she finds him, he looks so sad and in need of help. The whole attempt to kill himself scene was heartbreaking. If only he had decided earlier to adapt to the change, life would have been much easier. Even if some ended up hating his accent or voice on screen, fans would have watched him anyways.
    I read somewhere that her fashion doesn’t change much or at all after the film enters the 1930s. Maybe her night gown does.
    You’re right that he has a likeness to Gene Kelly. I never thought of that unti you mentioned it. Now I want to see how George and Peppy are doing with their careers. It would be fun to see them run into Astaire and Rogers.

    Reply

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