A silent film in 2011? It may sound completely far-fetched but director Michel Hazanavicius pulls it off and in turn gives us one of the most beautiful films of the year as well as most likely the best film of the year. Here is The Artist!
The whole idea of this movie being a silent film probably has either turned off people to the notion of seeing it or given them an excuse for why it was winning a lot of awards. In a way that’s true and I have to say I thought that a little to myself prior to seeing it but once this film began and the music started and the actors entered the frame, I was instantly hooked. This film is both visually beautiful and extremely entertaining for a silent film.
Jean Dujardin plays the lead character, George Valentin, a silent film star who is the most “in demand” actor currently working. The audience can get a sense of his personality at the very beginning when once the film that he is showing is done, he jumps on the stage and begins dancing and parading for the audience while they cheer and go wild. His giant smile beaming from side to side while his dog (in real life named Uggie) does tricks for him. George is a star and Dujardin plays that role perfectly as he has a sense of cockiness to him but at the same time he shows compassion and helps others especially a young girl who is trying to become an actress, Miss Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo).
Peppy and George spark instantly and they really start to hit it off while working together on one of George’s films. This begins the main storyline of the film which is both the rise of Peppy as a sound film actress and the fall of George with the silent film industry. Once this fall begins with George, it starts the real reason why Jean Dujardin will win the Best Actor award at this year’s Oscars. He goes to a polar opposite of what his character was at the beginning of the film and this change in the character is astounding to watch as he has no sound to convey his deep depression. As much as I loved George Clooney and Brad Pitt this year, Dujardin earns the Best Actor award due to the amount of work it took and how well he pulled it off playing this part. It’s not easy to act this well in a silent film and he hit it spot on.
Even though Dujardin did such a great job, the rest of the cast deserves praise as well. Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller was adorable as well as fantastic in the role. She really pulls off that movie star attitude and she deserves some recognition for the role even though she probably won’t get the Best Supporting Actress award. James Cromwell and John Goodman turn in strong performances as George’s butler and the head of the film studio. The other person that deserves the most attention in this movie is the director, Michel Hazanavicius. While this is his most recognizable work so far in America, he should start to garner some high profile gigs because of the outstanding job he did with this movie. The cinematography is lovely and gives that 30s and 40s silent movie feel as well as adding some Hitchcock shots in that continue his love letter to cinema.
In conclusion, The Artist is easily one of the best films of the year and if I had seen it earlier it most likely would of made the top of my 2011 list. It is both entertaining and cheerful, sad and depressing, and magical all at the same time. It is more than just a silent film and a love letter to cinema but is a very entertaining piece of art and I highly recommend seeing it if it is showing in a theatre near you.