By: Emily Kellas
Rating: 10 out of 10
In a world that is constantly being inundated with sounds and noises, a moment of silence is both foreign, and intoxicating. With silent film dead since the 1920’s the format comes back in a big way with The Artist. Starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist encapsulates everything that was grand about early Hollywood film in this current rebirth.
George Valentin (Dujardin) is silent films biggest star in Hollywood until the talkies, and dumb pride derail his career. Peppy Miller (Bejo) is a young, beautiful, rising star who, through the advent of sounds films, becomes Hollywoods new it girl. It is the small advice the Valentin offers to Miller that helps her to stand out from the pack and gain her fame. What happens to a star when his light is dimmed? And what happens to a love bridging two eras? The Artist attempts to answer both questions in this light-hearted romantic comedy.
As a film buff, particularly of classic film, I nearly burst out of my skin with excitement when I heard about The Artist. For months I sat around my apartment annoying everyone in earshot about the little silent film. So when I finally saw the film everyone was relieved that perhaps the chatter would end… they were wrong. The Artist, in my opinion, is one of the best films made in decades, and proves that sound is not a necessary component of a film.
In loo of dialogue the film focuses on cinematography, gestures, body language, humor, love, a beautiful score, and of course a precocious little Jack Russell Terrier. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo give the performances of their lives. Their pantomime and expression take the audience through laughter, and drama in the matter of a look. All aspects of this masterpiece fit so perfectly within one another that for most of the film I didn’t even notice the absence of dialogue and that it was filmed in black and white. I was so enamored by the characters and plot that the conventions of current film escaped me. What I did notice was the use of camera technique that remains so indicative of the silent film era. With canted angles, transitions, and opening credits the audience was immediately transformed into their roles as a 1920’s audience, bewitched, and silent.
The Artist is an exquisite film, not just for it’s kitsch, but also for it’s well conceived plot, gorgeous cinematography and universal themes of love, and strife. It’s rare for this reviewer to give any film a rating of 10 out of 10 but for The Artist it is well deserved. The film has brought back into the public consciousness the era, and film format that remains the foundation of the present day film and television industries. So set your phone on silent, and leave the crunchy snacks at home and revel in a piece of Hollywood art, The Artist.