THE ARTIST – or ‘TITLE CARD #1’
Within the first five minutes of The Artist I fell in love. Within the first hour of leaving The Artist I was filled with something I’m not really sure how to describe other than ‘non-alcoholically induced joy’. It was scary, feeling such pure happiness without an open-bar in sight… but I won’t lie – The Artist is my film of the moment.
A chance meeting between silent film superstar George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and animated fan, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) changes everything. As Peppy is inspired to audition for a role within George’s next film, she is completely unaware that she’s breaking into the business on the cusp of the sound-revolution. Meanwhile, George clings to his silent traditions – refusing to move forward with these advances in cinema tech, the fading star must face the fact that no one will ever want to hear him talk.
One of the greatest things about The Artist is that within it, it discusses how irrelevant silent films are – while conforming almost entirely to the classic model of silent cinema. Written and directed with a tongue-in-cheek air by Michel Hazanavicius, and paired with a brilliant score composed by Ludovic Bource, it’s almost ridiculous how easy it is to fall in love with the film itself.
This isn’t just a silent film. It’s a film that uses its own silence as a tool for comedy, reflection, or for drama. It shows the depth and the breadth to which a fantastic cast, an incredible score and a simple story can go without 3D glasses or vampires.
The supporting cast really is great- and while your heart will be captured by the adorable Bérénice Bejo or the disarmingly handsome Jean Dujardin, the supports shouldn’t be ignored. John Goodman as the firey head of the studio, MIssi Pyle, the self-obsessed starlet, James Cromwell as the loyal chauffeur – even Malcolm McDowell as ‘some dude sitting down’. Each adding something unique, and wonderful to the film.
I can understand the criticism The Artist is getting from some. The second-act drags a little and the pacing seems to fall apart somewhere in the middle. To this I toss my head back and laugh. I can see, and I can recognize flaws in the film – but I don’t care. There’s something that just transmitted a feeling of pure joy while watching it, and that’s rare nowadays. One of the things I love the most about The Artist are the details. While the main story might be briefly dragging, it’s behind the actors on billing blocks of cinema houses, or in the wild erratic movements of extras where you should be looking.
In an age where CGI Transformers are out-acting charmless and syphilitic actors – The Artist proves you can still capture charm and class within celluloid. A film for film lovers, and nostalgia junkies alike, it left me speechless in the best possible way.