the artist2011

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman

Who’d have thought that in this day and age a silent film would be such a roaring success, not just for the critics among us but also for the average cinema-goer too? I for one was pleasantly surprised to be swept up in the magic that accompanied the award winning spectacle in this tribute to the silent movie era, The Artist.

The film takes us back to 1927, where the captivating, audience-pleasing silent movie star George Valentin meets a young and vibrant dancer, aptly named Peppy Miller. With the arrival of the talking pictures, Peppy takes advantage of every chance she’s given and rises swiftly in the quickly changing industry. Valentin, however, struggles to adapt to this new wave of movie and as his career suffers due to this inability to evolve, his life starts to spiral downwards.

The Artist is charming, clever and brilliantly crafted, proving to the world that by bringing back the glorious old Hollywood magic, we don’t need the CGI, crude dialogue and inane plots masquerading as comedy that we’ve become so accustomed to. Once you get used to the idea of the silent movie, which takes all of 5 minutes where The Artist is concerned, you will be enthralled.

This genre of film, stemming from the silent era (1894 – 1929), required the actors to communicate with the viewers so intensely that dialogue really wasn’t necessary. The Artist doesn’t disappoint in this respect and comes to life further through its musical score. It’s just as much about the soundtrack as it is the cinematography and the theatrical music carries the film along from start to finish.

The cast shine on screen, with a great performance from some well-known faces including John Goodman and James Cromwell. Jean Dujardin is perfect as the silent movie star who can’t, and equally doesn’t want to, evolve. He has the same on-screen charisma that Gene Kelly and Cary Grant had and his chemistry with the sparkly eyed Berenice Bejo (Peppy) is palpable.

The Artist is a classic film portrayed by director Michel Hazanavicius in such a way that the modern person, regardless of gender or age, can enjoy and appreciate it. Whilst it’s faithful to the art of silent movies, it’s not created for the silent era; this is a silent movie for the 21st century. The black and white adds to the magic and the darker moments within the film provide an appealing contrast to the slapstick quality at the beginning.

There’s very little to fault with The Artist, it’s a worthy Oscar winner that paves the way for originality, inventiveness and going back to basics.

★★★★★