The Artist – Movie Review
“The Artist” is a courageous and wonderful film about the life of a silent movie star and the power of pride and love. But even more simply than that, it is a movie that simply reminds of why we enjoy movies. Movies are different than any other medium because they tell stories through moving images. They don’t require sound effects, dialogue, or explosions. Just watch “Wall-E” or the opening sequence of “Up” and you will know what I mean. “The Artist” uses tricks of the trade such as montages, symbolism in shot composition, musical score and great acting to tell a simple story that we all can relate to. This is a great film because of all that it evokes and HOW it evokes that through its storytelling.
I would highly suggest that you go see this inside a movie theater. Why? It’s a spectacle that deserves to be seen in a dark room, with a large screen taking up your vision. Don’t worry about weirdos in the movie theater. The people paying money to see this in the theater probably don’t even know how to text and those who are paying that do are cultured enough to know movie etiquette.
“The Artist” succeeds because of three things: acting, music, and fun. First, the cast is first rate. Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin in a way that makes us truly believe we are watching a silent film stare. His smile, eyes and facial expressions are first rate. Berenice Bejo (who reminds me a lot of Rachael McAdams) has a great style and her face conveys and incredible amount of emotion. Because it’s a silent film the actors have to rely on facial expression and body language to the point that they had to overexaggerate their movements and behavior. Anyone who has acted in a school play knows how key this is. It’s here where “The Artist” truly shines because its cast does a tremendous job of playing their parts. This is probably what I most enjoyed about the film. We are so used to actors and actresses garnering praise for playing characters in which they mimic the voice, manner of speech, and behaviors of famous people. But what about a film in which the actors don’t speak at all? The cast of “The Artist” aren’t simply playing silent film stars, they become silent film stars in a magical way.
The score of this film could almost be considered another actor in this film. In a silent film, the score tells us very obviously what we should be feeling. It’s not a criticism at all, it’s just the way the movie operates. The score fits this film perfectly, from the dramatic and dark, to the upbeat and peppy. There’s a reason it won the Golden Globe the other night.
Finally, the movie succeeds because it loves film, it loves the golden era of movies. It loves to have fun and uses all of its tools at its disposal. There are great moments of humor that make us laugh out out with no dialogue, just subtle physical and situational comedy. It uses quick montages that remind of us the modern romantic comedies as well as the famous family shots of “Citizen Kane.” There are great shots of symbolism, the great use of sound cue cards during a silent car chase, and an overall sense of enchantment about how the movie unfolds.
You owe it to yourself to see this film. In a film world now dominated by emo vampires, action movies in which heroes simply shout obvious phrases like, “Get down!”, or serial killers who have to explain to their victims and the audience just what the hell is going on, it’s a refreshing and fun dose of entertainment. It’s a “popcorn” movie, but in a totally different way.