Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Artist Review

Well hello, Internet!  The Artist recently won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical.  At the time of this writing its also up for ten Academy Awards, including best picture.  And I think it fully deserves that honor.  I must point out that I have already made my Top Ten list, but I may have to go back and edit it.  I enjoyed The Artist that much.  It may not be my favorite film of last year, but its definitely one of the best.

The Artist is a black and white silent film set in the 1920s.  The story follows George Valentin (played brilliantly by French actor Jean Dujardin), a well-known and celebrated silent-film actor who meets a younger dancer, Peppy Miller.  Peppy shares a scene with George in one of his films, leading to strife in both his personal and professional life.  "Talkies" are on the verge of becoming huge in Hollywood, and George's agent/producer, played by the great John Goodman, decides that Peppy will be the new face of their studio and be the new star of all of their talkies.  This puts George out of a job and into a spiral of self-destruction not helped by the Great Depression.

The story is absolutely fantastic and quite a joy to watch unfold.  Without dialogue.  There are title cards used at times of important dialogue but the rest of the time its up to us to follow the plot through emotion and gesture.  Its quite refreshing in today's cinema landscape of fast-talking and visual overload to just sit back and let the performances truly shine.  And shine they do.

Jean Dujardin is beyond fantastic as George.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve - something very much needed in a film of this type.  Berenice Bejo is a joy to watch as well; at first you notice her beauty, then you notice her acting skill, both within the context of her character in the film and the actress herself.  She is incredibly believable as a newcomer-turned-starlet over just a few films.  The rest of the cast is fantastic as well - John Goodman is always great to watch and James Cromwell makes a great turn as George's chauffeur and helper.  Again, their acting is on stage (no pun intended) and showcased with great effect.

Being a silent film there is virtually no spoken dialogue.  There is only one small instance of audible dialogue and its handled brilliantly.  There is also only one instance of sound of any kind (sans music) and again, that particular scene is truly fantastic.  That brings me to the music.  The score complements the film perfectly and helps us to feel what the characters are feeling or experiencing much more than most modern scores.  I may love the scores to Tron: Legacy or The Lord of the Rings, but neither of those capture the heart and emotion of that of The Artists'.

While I absolutely loved The Artist its not my typical film choice, and the same can be said for plenty of you as well.  I know several individuals who have absolutely no desire to see it whatsoever, mainly for the lack of color and audible dialogue.  I'm willing to give anything a chance.  And I'm very glad I did.

The Artist is a true masterpiece of cinema and an extreme joy to experience.

The Bearded Bullet is off to re-write his Top Ten list...

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