Viewed – 04 June 2012 Blu-ray
So how does one begin reviewing one of the most celebrated movies of the last twelve months? With seven Baftas and five Oscars under its belt, leading up to my viewing of this, I have felt both huge anticipation, and to a large extent, trepidation. Just how good can a movie made entirely in the style of 1920’s silent cinema, really be? The answer – very good indeed.
Hollywood star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) finds himself out of favour when the ‘talkies’ becomes the new thing, whilst young starlet Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) is propelled into stardom. However these two characters are inevitably interlinked as we watch their two destinies unfold. As mentioned this is shot exactly like an old silent movie complete with soft-focus black & white and cue-cards when characters speak. Yet for some reason, it felt right and wasn’t at all unusual. I have often admired classic Hollywood and the musicals and comedies of the era, with names like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy, and although this is more in the style of whimsical romances than slapstick comedies, I found it utterly charming. It’s quite amazing how authentic this is, even down to the 4:3 aspect ratio which may surprise some used to big widescreen images. Add to this a wonderfully uplifting and beautifully composed orchestral score that plays almost non-stop – and this viewer was suddenly transported back in time, and it felt great.
The twin performances of Dujardin & Bejo are faultless, both having the kind of faces that bleed character, humour and emotion, that spoken word was something I didn’t even miss – their expressions and body language speaking volumes. Also, the little dog who steals almost every scene he appears in, is quite wonderful too. Director Michel Hazanavicius took a huge gamble with this, and I am happy to say it’s paid off brilliantly.
So there we have it. A very clever tribute to classic cinema, that especially shines due to a well told story, great performances and above all else – genuine heart. Deserving of every accolade that has been thrown at it, this will surely be one to beat in my end of year review.
Verdict: 5 /5
- The top five silent films to shout about (guardian.co.uk)
- “The Artist”: Silents are still golden (cbsnews.com)
- The Artist (canadiancinephile.com)