DIRECTOR Michel Hazanavicius
CAST Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, Uggie the dog
George Valentin is a silent movie star whose career falls apart with the arrival of the talkies, while up-and-coming actress Peppy Miller is on the rise. With sublime acting, wonderful music and a very cute dog, this black and white silent movie is an uplifting and beguiling ode to early cinema. Unmissable.
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky's the limit - major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of their interlinked destinies.
BBFC advice: Contains scene of mild threat Further Parental Advice
“The Artist is the one film that Harvey Weinstein ever bought that caused his brother and business partner, Bob, to question his sanity. It is in black and white, silent, was made by the French, and its biggest American star is John Goodman. Michel Hazanavicius’ wonderful film, however, should instead go down in history not as a sign of any advancing senility but as the proof of Weinstein’s humanity; it’s a film that not only communicates a profound and sincere love of the very idea of cinema, it deals with universal emotions of love and remorse and it does so with a clarity that leaves no room for ambiguity. It will play to grandparents who queued to see Singin’ In The Rain when it came out over 50 years ago just as surely as it will to kids who haven’t developed the good sense to turn off Mr. Bean yet. It may be premature to call it a masterpiece, but if that’s the technical term for a film that moves and inspires us while at the same time evoking a childlike sense of delight, then, for the first time since Steven Spielberg’s E. T. in 1982, that’s exactly what it might turn out to be.
… Much of the reason for the film’s success can be ascribed to star Jean Dujardin, who simply becomes George Valentin. A small but important scene shows Valentin getting into character, one moment relaxed, smiling and gracious, the next raising his arm, hunching his shoulders and hoisting his nose into the air with the imperial, smouldering haughtiness of a John Gilbert or a Fredric March. It may even be the key scene in the movie, since this is what Valentin thinks acting is, and, by extension, who he is: this is all he can do, and when the industry changes, he finds it impossible to adapt to a new world, in which his former floosie is now the boss.
… There are those that sneer at The Artist’s simplicities, its unfortunate inability to be a real long-lost classic, and point to the richness of the era it borrows from, a golden age that gave us such giants as F. W. Murnau, D. W. Griffith and Erich Von Stroheim. That’s not the endeavour here. The point of The Artist is to reconnect with the human spirit, see what our ancestors saw in a single close-up and find emotions in the human face that no amount of CGI can render. And at a time when the market is split to extremes between billion-dollar blockbusters and micro-budget miseries, it’s heartening to find, somewhere in a vast middle-ground, a film that revisits the basics, finding invisible fictions in a gesture, a profile, a longing look, a tear, an arched eyebrow, an embrace. The Artist may not be for snobs, but it’s not just for buffs; it’s for anyone who ever sat rapt in front of a movie screen. And let’s face it, that’s all of us.
Verdict - Simply irresistible. More than a skit, this a lively and lovable comedy that’s full of personality and charm." read more
“A black and white silent film about the end of silent film-making? Not even its director or cast thought The Artist would get much attention, let alone be mooted for Oscar success. And yet no one who has seen The Artist could doubt its popular appeal. It is the most joyous burst of pure pleasure to emerge on screen in years, a simple, tender story told in a simple format, expressing love and tragedy more effectively than any big blockbuster ever could.
… The tone, though always skirting around the tragedy of unrealised romance, is playful and exudes the merriment and easy laughs of the silent films to which it is an homage.
The two leads are splendid (Dujardin won Best Actor at Cannes) and manage perfectly to capture the exaggerated style of the silent era without ever descending into farce. When George says that people do not “need” to hear him speak, he is quite right. His face does all the talking.
Hazanavicius makes a virtue of the lack of sound. Inter-titles are sparsely but cleverly used (particularly in one climactic scene where we expect one thing but get another) and the score compliments but never drowns the action. Tne scene where George suddenly begins to “hear” is so brilliantly imagined it makes us, like George, want to clamp our hands to our ears and make it all go away.
This is a film drenched in love - love for an old and forgotten Hollywood, for a simpler type of film-making, romantic love, even pet love! - and yet it is so delicately rendered, so understated, that it never feels syrupy. read more
UK RELEASE 30 December 2011
RUNNING TIME 100 minutes
COUNTRY France / Belgium
LANGUAGE Silent with English intertitles
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