Movie Review: The Artist [2011]

The Artist [2011]

The Artist [2011]
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Drama
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Runtime: 100 Minutes

Of all the films generating Oscar buzz right now, The Artist is most intriguing. It is not often a silent movie is made in this day and age, and perhaps this novelty is its greatest appeal. This is a sparkling homage that revels in its silent nature, even opting to break out of past molds and play with the dynamics a little.

The year is 1927. Silent film star George Valentin (Dujardin) is on top of the world as one of the biggest names in the business. His partnership with studio boss Al Zimmer (Goodman) has resulted in a great deal of success, and the two seem in for a lucrative future.

Fast forward to two years later. Zimmer announces the end of production of silent films, claiming that “talkies” are the future of the business. Valentin calls this transition a fad, and opts to produce and direct his own silent film. This doesn’t go well, and another series of unfortunate events leads to Valentin hitting rock bottom.

The Artist [2011]

Meanwhile, young up-and-comer Peppy Miller (Bejo), an acquaintance of Valentin’s, is taking advantage of the new medium and has become a star in her own right. The two have an interesting history — it was Valentin who “made” her trademark mole so she would stand out from other aspiring actresses. There is a clear connection between them, and they continue to cross each other’s paths from time to time (sometimes conveniently when they need each other most).

There are some pretty heavy moments in The Artist, particularly when Valentin is alone and wallowing in his own self pity. However, when he and Miller are on screen together, the movie becomes electric. Their chemistry is terrific, and Dujardin and Bejo are both so much fun to watch. Dujardin, in particular, seems like he could have been a silent film star himself. His natural charisma translates very well to the movie’s classic setting.

The Artist is a real crowd pleaser, and it’s easy to see why it is blowing up the awards circuit right now. There are just so many enjoyable aspects of the movie — the charming little dog Uggie who brings laughter to a few scenes, the strategically wonderful use of vocals on rare occasions, the frequent nods to cinematic classics — that it’s hard not to fall in love with The Artist. This is a movie that even those ignorant of silent or black-and-white films can appreciate.

9/10

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26 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Artist [2011]

  1. Chris says:

    I’m not usually a fan of silent films, hopefully will live up to all the hype when I get to it. Your rating of 9/10 sure has me even more interested ( :

    ps If you’re into silent film, try director Kelly Reichardt, Wendy and Lucy (2008) for me is her best film starring Michelle Williams.

    • Eric says:

      Haven’t heard of Wendy and Lucy. I’m a big fan of Michelle Williams, though, so I will be sure to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Matt Stewart says:

    I have not seen many silent films in my lifetime, but there are quite a few I enjoy, Chaplin’s work is all great for sure.

    Thanks for the review, I am really looking forward to this one!

    • Eric says:

      One thing The Artist made me want to do was watch more silent film. I am still pretty new to the style myself, so there are a lot of classics I need to catch up on. As far as homages go, this is one of the better ones.

  3. Castor says:

    Glad you have finally seen this Eric! This movie is such a joy to watch and Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo are nothing less than terrific in their respective roles. I’m totally in love with this flick 😀

    • Eric says:

      Thanks Castor! I completely agree. I would like to see Dujardin and Bejo’s previous collaboration with Hazanavicius: OSS 117. They certainly have impeccable chemistry together.

  4. Jaina says:

    Been dying to see this but being surrounded by big multiplexes that insist on showing the biggest films during their prime time slots has hindered me. I will see it – I kinda really need to.

    • Eric says:

      Ah, that’s too bad that it isn’t in your area. There may be hope yet — it just expanded into some AMC theaters over here. Hope you are able to see it soon!

      • Jaina says:

        Well, I finally got to see and completely fell in love with it. There’s not a film like this. And in my cynical head, I didn’t think people would be able to make films like this, these days.

  5. Scott Lawlor says:

    BRILLIANT FILM!!

    I love DuJardin he is so suave. He was great in OSS117 and in this, I am pretty much a fan now!! He was good in Little White Lies too, for the small amount he was in i!

    Thanks matey

  6. adampbellotto says:

    This movie is so fantastic and has so many memorable moments. Just thinking about the scene where Dujardin dances with Berenice Bejo’s legs (while she’s hidden by the backdrop) makes me want to rush out and see this one again.

    Great review!

    • Eric says:

      Very true — I don’t think I have seen a bad review yet. Although some of my favorites were snubbed for Best Picture, I would be satisfied with The Artist winning this year. Thanks for the comment!

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