Artist, The (2011)
Release date: October 12, 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Screenplay by: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Uggie (dog), John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell
I don’t check out silent films (or black and white films) very often. But with The Artist, I definitely had to, considering the awards buzz and good praises surrounding it.
Amy told me the other day that my line about Hugo “reminding the world of how lovely classic films can be” was interesting, considering The Artist‘s nature. I believe that The Artist isn’t a full-fledged love letter to classic films (Scorsese did that better), but I can see it being that way too. Nonetheless, I see The Artist as a film that exposes the film industry in terms of how actors rise and fall thanks to changes made within the industry, more often tending to cater to moviegoers attending the theaters; all of that being done through gimmicks, advertising and technical innovations.
The “fall” side of The Artist is seen through the eyes of George Valentin (Dujardin), a proud ‘silent film’ actor working during 1920-30s Hollywood at Kinograph Studios. His life starts to turn upside down once the studio he works at decides that silent films are no longer being produced, favoring the production of “talkies” (films with sound) instead. Despite the studio’s change, George works on a new silent film, all paid for by himself. Once his film tanks at the box office because “talkies” draw more money, his downward spiral worsens.
The “rise” side of the film is illustrated through Peppy Miller (Bejo), a woman who bumps into Geroge by accident during the premiere of his latest film. Peppy turned into a big movie star quickly thanks to George paving the way for her. And while George’s career worsens throughout the film, Peppy’s grows more and more.
In this current film era, The Artist feels unique given its characteristics. It may not be the greatest silent film of all time, but it’s undeniable that The Artist is a well-crafted film. It’s worth the watch thanks to its great cast, the music surronding the film and the subtlety in the details. The performances from Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo were stellar, with Dujardin being the best actor of the film. However, neither could outmatch the adorability that Uggie, who played George’s pet and sole companion, displayed in the film.
I know many people who enjoyed the lovely parts that The Artist shows, but I have to admit that I enjoyed its darker parts involving George a lot more. In particular, my favorite scene from the film was George’s nightmare. The way Dujardin played that scene along with the sound crew’s work on said scene was amazing.
While The Artist was enjoyable to watch, I find it inevitable to wonder if other filmmakers are going to jump on the bandwagon and start making films like this one.