The Artist (2011)

The Artist review

What was the last time you saw a silent movie? The answer will probably that most people won’t have seen one in a while, either because they feel like it’s not worth checking out or simply “because it’s in black and white” or “has no sound”. I never understood those reasons as I regularly check out older movies (Jeanne D’Arc being a memorable one for example) which are watching just as much as newer ones. Will the Oscar buzz surrounding The Artist change people’s mind about not watching something like this? I hope it does as this was one I really enjoyed.

The Artist review

The Artist is a throwback to the era when the movie viewing public watched movies in black and white, without sound and where title cards were used for dialogue. It isn’t only set during that era, it also uses this style itself. It’s a bold move to make a movie like that today, but it has been done faithfully and results in a movie that feels fresh. Is it a gimmick? I think it partly is, but because of my love of movies I did enjoy it more than expected.

The story is about George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who is one of the biggest silent movie stars there is. He’s extremely popular, but once the “talkies” are introduced he’s not interested in making them as he feels people don’t want sound. It turns out to be a bad bet and his life starts to fall apart. During one of his silent movies he met a young new actress called Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and the movie also shows her rise to stardom. While one rises the other falls and it’s this dynamic which is the subject of the movie. It reminded me strongly of something like Singin’ in the Rain, which is set during the same time period.

The Artist review

As this is a silent movie it means that acting has to be a bit different compared to the way it is done in other movies. Facial expressions are much more important and the two leads manage to do this exceptionally well and it’s what gives this movie its charm. As for the supporting cast like John Goodman and James Cromwell I can’t say the same. I really felt they were acting the same way as they do would this be a “normal” movie and for me that didn’t work here.

The Artist won me over on its feeling of nostalgia and it’s obvious director Michel Hazanavicius loves the era. The story might be too simple for some, but if you are someone who enjoys the classic silent movies I think you might just like this one too.

Score: 9

17 thoughts on “The Artist (2011)

  1. Last time I saw a silent movie was six weeks ago, watching Sir Arne’s Treasure from 1919 in a real theatre with live music! It was awesome and I wrote a piece about it.

    I can’t wait to see this one. It won’t come to Sweden until March though.

  2. One of the spare 9/10’s gave last year. Everything is so well thought of: acting, music, the few non-silent scenes, arcing of the characters, et cetera.

    Funny to note that in the last picture features actor Malcolm McDowell, who gained fame by playing Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’.

  3. I don’t think I’ve seen too many silent films other than some Charlie Chaplin ones, but I was so looking forward to seeing this and it definitely lived up to the hype. Glad you loved it too, Nostra, this is my number 1 favorite film of 2011 for me.

  4. Like Ruth, I’ve never seen any black and white films apart from the odd Charlie Chaplin clip. I’ve heard so many great things about this film, though, and can’t wait to see it. Unfortunately, as my local cinema never showed it, I’ll have to wait until it comes out on DVD now.

    Great write up, Nostra 🙂

  5. Yes, yes and yes. I must agree with everything you said. What a wonderful film. It deserves all the accolades it has received and will receive. This is why I love going to the movies.

  6. Glad you liked it Nostra. So charming and it really has it all: it’s funny, exhilarating, poignant, entertaining. It really does deserve all the accolade it’s getting!

  7. It is a beautiful film – happy to hear another person out there enjoyed it. There aren’t many negative reviews said about it. Though there was a news article here in the UK. A cinema in Liverpool was having to give refunds to patrons and remind patrons that they’re seeing a silent film when one batch complained that there was no sound. Seriously?! Unfortunately… yes.

    • I guess it will walk away with quite a few Oscars. Yeah, I heard about that and it shows that modern audiences are not open to experiencing something different in the cinema, a lot of them just want simple entertainment.

  8. Glad you enjoyed this, Nostra. The Artist really is a charming little film that is worthy of its accolades. I am surprised you didn’t enjoy Goodman and Cromwell’s performances, though. I thought they were both terrific, especially Cromwell as the loyal chauffeur.

    • I’m not saying they were extremely bad in this, but I really felt they didn’t act as though they were in a silent movie, which was a shame. It just stood out for me.

  9. Pingback: Synopsis/Review: The Artist « Living a Life ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.