WARNING: Do not continue reading unless you want to be midly spoiled on key parts of the movie, The Artist.
This entry will not be one of my super-detailed, moment-by-moment spoiler-filled reviews, but there will definitely be some mild film spoilers within this entry. I have decided against going too detailed because I strongly believe in the quality of this movie and think that it is worth watching at least once in theaters if possible (though I personally would watch this particular one again multiple times, easily). It’s rather short too, at 1 hour and 40 minutes.
I am absolutely happy to announce that this is one of the rare times I completely agree with the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has been rated at 97% and 90% of the audience liked the film. I only wish the ratings from the audience were as high as the overall rating. This movie was refreshing and actually does a surprisingly good job, in my opinion, for being a mostly silent endeavor. (I say mostly because there was still background music, and at the very end of the film there is, very briefly, a moment where there are sound effects other than music and a few lines where the characters speak–though there’s hardly any lines. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of that was a reason for a lesser rating from a critic.)
So what is this lovely film about? I think Wikipedia actually describes it well: “The Artist is a 2011 French romance film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The story takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932 and focuses on a declining male film star and a rising actress, as silent cinema grows out of fashion and is replaced by the talkies. The film itself is a silent film and shot in black-and-white. The film has received wide praise from critics and many accolades. Dujardin won the Best Actor Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. The film has six Golden Globe nominations, the most of 2011.”
According to Fandango, The Artist is currently ranked at #21 this week at $0.29 million and is currently only showing in 17 theaters. (I personally think this film deserves a more nationwide release though, it is excellent.) It is currently in its 4th week, and is currently third in theater averages, following Mission Impossible III: Ghost Protocol and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (a movie that I have yet to see and hope comes around my area sometime in the future). It’s current total gross is $1.33 million. As you’ve probably noticed, I normally don’t go this far with researching how a movie’s doing; I just enjoyed this film so much, and I hope more people will have a chance to see this in theaters.
For anyone skeptical about whether or not this silent film will maintain interest in a time where we are so used to hearing the words being spoken and sound effects being heard in addition to a soundtrack, I assure you that you will find this film most enjoyable.
The plot though, at times may appear to be admittedly simplistic. As simple as the story may seem, I think it only adds to the overall magic of the film. My only criticism is that at one point in the film I was absolutely frustrated that I could not read the lips of an officer that spoke to a very emotionally beat-down George Valentin (Jean Dujardin’s character); whatever he said seemed somewhat important, but I would have to watch it again to attempt to read his lips and see if he actually did say anything important–George’s facial expression seemed to imply that he had. For the most part though, it was actually surprisingly easy to read the lips of the characters in the film.
One of the main strengths of this film was the abilities of all the actors to effectively express their feelings and emotions without the assistance of speech. They all did wonderfully. In fact, they all did so well, the funny parts of the film were quite hilarious; I don’t think they would have been nearly as amusing had we actually heard what they were saying. I also loved the expressiveness of Jean Dujardin (who was very convincing in portraying a character who was charismatic, flirtatious, and quite self-destructive) and Bérénice Bejo (who was not only very endearing, she also was able to convince me that her character genuinely loved Dujardin’s character and that she wasn’t a creepy stalker or unhealthily obsessed).
Parts of the story reminded me faintly of the character Georges Méliès in Hugo, because of the struggle Dujardin’s character faces when he realizes that silent movies have become a thing of the past; he watches with conflicting emotions of approval and regret as his former admirer and fan, Peppy Miller rises in stardom as he falls from his own fame and becomes a “has been.” One thing I really liked about this love story is that Peppy is not a selfish character; she genuinely cares for George Valentin from the minute she is able to meet him in person, and never forgets her hero even as she rises in popularity and becomes more successful and wealthy. I won’t spoil the ending, but I assure you that the ending is a happy one.
There are not really any unlikable characters in this film either, which I also thought was nice. There were also definitely plenty of laughs. One scene in particular sticks out most in my mind, and it’s mostly thanks to an audience member that was in the same theater I was in when I was watching this film earlier today. There is a scene where George Valentin feels that he is on the end of his rope, and he is about ready to commit suicide. Meanwhile, Peppy Miller is driving like a madwoman to George’s house in hopes that she will catch him in time (it is implied that her women’s intuition has picked up on George potentially on his way to making yet another bad decision for himself). I could almost feel everyone in the theater (including myself) holding our breaths to see if George would actually pull the trigger. To be honest, I can’t remember if we actually hear a bang that goes along with the words “BANG!” that appear in white on a black background or not, but right at that very moment one of the female audience members said, “Ooh my god,” softly in such a funny way that I wish I had recorded it, along with the laughter that followed of everyone else in the theater. I’ll spoil this much–don’t worry, he doesn’t die.
I honestly could go on and on as to why and how much I adore this film, but I will cut it off here and move onto the review, at the same time hoping that I’ve already said enough to convince you to at least keep a look out for any screenings of the film nearby your area if it is not already available. If it is in your area, well, what are you waiting for? I highly encourage you to go watch it.
As for my review, here it is.
Re-watch Factor: *****
FINAL VERDICT: A+
I think this might actually be my first A+ rating on this blog, which is pretty exciting. I didn’t think I’d ever find a movie completely worthy of that rating, just because I want to be fair. As flawed as some may argue this film to be because it isn’t exactly like the back in the day silent films, I’d like to think that given the fact that it is a silent film made in today’s world, this actually was done pretty well.
Bottom line, go watch it if you can while you still can, if I haven’t stressed my sentiment enough already, haha.
Until next time!