Review of 'The Artist'

the_artist.jpg Note: I watched this on a tiny screen in the back of a 777 on the way from London to Abu Dhabi…Not exactly a fantastic viewing platform, it has to be said, but this is not exactly a film that is big on effects or spectacle. It is an homage to films of the 20s, certainly, but it is also a character study.

We meet George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) a hero of the silent film as he is at the height of his fame. Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an ambitious and flamboyant entertainer blags her way onto Valentin's movie set and the two of them are enthralled by one another. Valentin's day, it seems, has past as he dismisses the oncoming “talking” pictures to his great cost while the precocious Miller takes the bull by the horns to become famous and wealthy. The story focuses largely on his fall from favour has, one piece at a time, his life unravels and hits the bottom of the barrel. Miller never forgets Valentin as she looks on in dismay while he continuously rejects her support.

A wonderful black and white (and silent) tribute to the era it portrays right from the opening, old-style, credits to the over-acting drama portrayed on the screen. It is an interesting dichotomy though with the reality of the people the movie portrays themselves being portrayed in a medium they star in (if you see what I mean). I found parts a bit too overdone particularly Valentin's fall from grace which never seems to end…and has many lingering shots of him being despondent. One could argue that this was the style of the time but I would suggest it was just done TOO much for my liking (particularly since other similar aspects were not quite as drawn out). The acting here is very good and, of course, challenging for modern actors to portray.

I am not sure it deserved all of the accolades piled on by the various media (cynically I wonder if this is the industry itself loving the look of themselves in the mirror) but this is certainly not one to miss, particularly if you are a fan of the cinema and, particularly, a fan of older cinema.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2012-05-26

Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Studio: La Petite Reine

Year: 2011

Length: 100 minutes

Genre: Melodrama