I was on vacation this last week, so sadly you’re going to get a recycling of a review I did from my own blog when this was out in theater, with just a few minor alterations. Anywho… I guess they forgot to turn the sound on, because like… nobody in the movie was talking. (jay kay.) I really didn’t now what to expect from this film outside its premise and the fact it won the big awards in the Oscars. But did it deserve them? The Artist “tells” us the story of George (Jean Dujardin), a silent film star who typically works under director Al Zimmer (John Goodman). But when talkies start being introduced to Hollywood, Zimmer goes with the flow, leaving a skeptical George behind. As George falls to the wayside, a pretty young actress named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) begins to rise to stardom, and both George and Peppy’s paths often cross, mostly thanks to a fateful meeting at the beginning of the film.
I am no big know-it-all when it comes to the style of silent films. I’ve only seen a few silent films, though I am currently dabbling in making a short silent film myself. But anyway, the first time I saw this, as this film starts and you see an audience watching one of George’s silent films, I was nervous. I was already bored and couldn’t get into it. That lasted about five minutes. When Peppy is introduced during the press bits after the film ends, the film suddenly grabbed me and slowly started reeling me in. And it didn’t take very long for it to hook me completely after that. I recently re-watched this, and while the opening still doesn’t grab me completely, it grabbed me more than it did the first time.
Everything about this film is masterful. However, I have to give it up to the directing first and foremost, as there were some truly brilliant moments in this film. I can’t even begin to name them, as there are far too many. I mean, the mimic-dance, the jacket scene, the juxtapositions between George and Peppy, the camera angles and perfect shots, anything with the dog, the ending–the list just goes on and on. Similarly, the writing is outstanding. I understand now how a silent film is nominated for best screenplay. The play on words this film uses (“Why won’t you talk!”), the jokes, the unexpected responses. It’s all fantastic, and the director’s vision really took it all and gave it to us perfectly.
I could go on and on about the actors, too. Berenice Bejo is gorgeous. Jean Dujardin is charming, debonair, and–at times–heartbreaking. His relationship with James Cromwell is outstanding, and a particular scene later on in the film between them really pulled at the heartstrings. The true star of this film, though, was the dog. Not only was he the cutest dog ever, but they trained him brilliantly. And his love for his master/best friend George was intoxicating. You can’t help but smile.
I’m not even going to bother talking about the award-winning musical score, which fits practically every scene perfectly. But then, on top of everything else I’ve mentioned, is a meta quality that surrounds the entire film. I loved this film, I really did. It has everything: charm, wit, class, comedy, sadness, romance, sword fights (kinda), and even some tap dancing. An outstanding film, and it easily pushed its way into my Top 5 of last year.