The Artist is nothing short of brilliant.
The film follows George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) from his historic popularity to his quick downfall with the advent of “talkies.” Along the way, we meet Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who gains her notoriety through a chance meeting with Valentin. George wants to follow silent films until the end while Peppy learns to adapt to the new market. The film is very much about the old versus the new and how it is possible to find a middle ground.
A lot of people have been rather cynical of the film saying things like, “It’s only getting such good reviews because it’s a silent film!” True, it is getting a lot of good reviews AND it’s a silent film. But, it’s not getting good reviews just BECAUSE it’s a silent film. It stands well on its own no matter what category we put it into. By the way, it’s not completely a silent film…
This film is deserving of the praise because it is so charming. It does some fantastic things such as the playing with sound and image and how the movie industry has evolved. The acting is spot on considering that the actors had to learn to be extra expressive and mug the camera, but it never feels too overdone. The score fits brilliantly with the film gently gliding between upbeat hurrahs to the strings of misery. During the darkest parts of the film, the score had my heart racing. Other times the score helped me laugh along with the characters.
The one part of the film that seems to hinder it from a perfect review is the middle slump. Between the great beginning, the climax, and the ending, the film sank a little. A little bit more editing could have kept up the pace. Otherwise, the film was pitch perfect.
Most importantly, I walked out of the theater with a huge smile on my face. Considering that I volunteer at the theater, you can often hear me on a Friday night working popcorn whistling one of the tunes from the show.
It’s memorable and mesmerizing. It’s worth your money and time, and I’ll be rooting for it at the Oscars.