Monday, January 2, 2012

The Artist

Movie Name: The Artist
Year of Release: 2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Malcolm McDowell, Basil Hoffman, Nina Siemaszko
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

"The Artist" is Michel Hazanavicius' fourth feature and is a nostalgic trip to an era that has gone by, specifically, the silent films. The film follows the story of George Valentin, a dashing star from the silent movies, whose career starts to unravel when sound, the talkies, make their appearance. In parallel with his downward spiral, we witness the upswing of the beautiful Peppy Miller, who starts as an extra and slowly becomes "America's Sweetheart" in the new medium that ostracizes George. Their paths cross and their bond and connection is immediate, however the tribulations of life sends them in different directions.
This film is very much a variation of the eternal "A Star is Born", transposed for an era when a lot of the silent screen actors had a difficult time transitioning to the talkies - the best example of that is of course Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" with Gloria Swanson. "The Artist" uses the cues of silent films, such as the subtitle cards to showcase what the actors are saying, but unlike Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" where there was a tribute to the pioneers of cinema, to the joy of films as a magical and entertaining thing, this is a film that utilizes the silent film style as a more calculated ploy. "The Artist" is filled with nostalgia, but lacks the spark that makes the films of Buster Keaton and Charles Chaplin, to name but a few magical and everlasting works of art. It stands as an interesting exercise in nostalgia and not much more than that.