Do you ever wish you could travel back in time and live in another generation? Experience what life was like back in another lifetime and view some of the entertainment that our ancestors once enjoyed? Very few period movies released now-a-days actually have the ability to transport the audience to a whole new world, one that we would otherwise would not be able to see. However, I have found a movie that not only transports you as back in time, but it also makes you want to stay there. The Artist transports the viewer back to the golden age of silent films, allowing you to experience a truly unique movie-going experience which you won’t soon forget.
A mix of two of my favorite old movies, A Star is Born and Singin’ in the Rain, The Artist tells the story of silent film star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) who at the time is the biggest silent star in the world. At one of the premieres to his films he has a chance meeting with a fan and struggling actress named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). The next day George is able to get Peppy a role in the film he is working on. However, Hollywood is changing over from silent films to talking pictures, and George is unable to find work while Peppy becomes a bigger and bigger star. Now fully unemployed, George’s life begins to fall apart. His wife leaves him, he loses his house, and soon the only companionship he has is a dog (played by the adorable Uggie). Will George be able to bring his career back to the star level it once was on? Will he ever find happiness in another person again?
This movie made me so happy. Never have I ever seen a movie in the theaters that made me as genuinely happy as this movie did from the beginning to the end. Even including the more serious parts, this movie made me smile. Maybe it was the environment I was in (I saw it in a single picture movie house, sitting in the balcony), but this movie just made me so happy. It felt true to other silent films I have seen in the past and seemed like it could have been an “Old Hollywood” film just from its feel alone. Jean Dujardin had a very Gene Kelly-like quality about him, and every time he smiled I thought of him. He just oozed personality and charm, which is very difficult considering there is no dialogue. He was able to convince the audience that he was in fact a struggling silent movie actor awash in a confusing new world of sound. He deserves any accolade he gets for this film and should be preparing his shocked winner face/speech for the Oscar, because if there is any sanity left in the world he will be rewarded for this truly unique performance. The only actor who out-acted him was Uggie, but sadly dogs can’t be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Berenice Bejo was divine as the up-and-coming Peppy and really lit up any scene she was in.
Although it was a mixture of two great films’ plots, the storyline seemed to be really fresh and delved into uncharted territory. Maybe it was the silent aspect, but it seemed like it was a new story. The direction was beautifully done, and Michel Hazanavicius deserves a lot of credit for not only this but for being the lead writer of the film as well. Additionally, the fact that the movie is in black and white just made it that much more special. Black and white adds an extra ounce of quality to any movie, and it was really cool to see it used in this day and age. The music, more important than ever due to the lack of dialogue, still fit the film perfectly and really enhanced the story telling and helped move the story along.
All and all, I think The Artist is a rare movie that deserves the title of perfect. From the acting, to the direction, to the music, everything in this movie excited me. I think it will soon be considered a modern classic. I know a lot of people are put off by watching a silent film, but please don’t stop that from allowing you to experience this true joy of a film. Go out and see it!
7 out of 5 starsThe Artist (2012) La Petite Reine PG-13, 100 Minutes