First Hit: An amazing film and a genuine joy to watch.
I’ve watched silent films before and although the acting can be superb the filming techniques of yesteryear are nothing like what can be done today.
In The Artist we get the best of both worlds. Although the director makes this film look and feel much like an old film, it also feels new, fresh and alive.
George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) is the silent screen matinee idol. He has a suave look, he is the hero of all his films, he gets the girl, and his dog is smart and a faithful companion. George’s home life is not good and he is very distant from his wife Doris (played by Penelope Ann Miller).
Doris sits around all day and draws mustaches and beards on pictures of her husband. She’s tired and bored. She is also put off by George’s suave arrogance which is noted when each time he leaves the house he gives a tip of his hat to the over life-size painting of himself hanging next to the door.
During one of his publicity conferences he runs into a young wanna-be actress named Peppy Miller (played by Berenice Bejo). Peppy finds herself as an extra in one of George’s films and they fall in love. In his dressing room he paints a mole on her right cheek and before you know it she is a star.
Studio head Al Zimmer (played by John Goodman) calls George into his office telling him he is going to start making “talkies” and George states that it will be a fad and he doesn’t want any part of them.
Subsequently, he makes his own silent film and it fails. The studio signs Peppy, makes and is successful with talkie films, and George slips into despair. He loses everything. All of this is in silence except for a dog bark and chair drag which come in a dream sequence.
The eloquence of the scenes, George’s smile, the magnetic chemistry with Peppy, all make this film magnificent in both the acting and its production values.
Dujardin is extraordinary as the silent film star. He lights up the screen with magnetic charm. Miller was very good as the stoic wife. Bejo is beautifully charming and a joy to watch. Her chemistry with Dujardin is palpable. Goodman is perfect as the old time bossy, yet soft, studio head. Uggie as The Dog was amazing. Michel Hazanavicius wrote the scenarios and minor dialogue and it was perfect. Hazanavicius also directed this film and he definitely deserves Oscar consideration.
Overall: This film will give the watcher a wonderful and intriguing look at what a good silent film was like.