This sincere and romantic homage to the silent movie era is one the most creative productions to grace the silver screen in years.
The 2012 Oscar race for best picture is well under way and The Artist is this year’s front runner – and for good reason. Not only is it a beautiful love story told with equal parts levity, subtlety, and substance, the film also begs the question as to whether the art of cinema existed in its purest form when pictures were silent.
The story revolves around two brilliantly like-able characters. George Valentin, played by the leading Oscar contender Jean Dujardin, is the ‘Clooney’ of the silent film world, endowed with debonair good looks and a confident swagger. His defining trait as an actor is always to appear on screen with his dog Uggie, a magnetic character in the film in his own right. George, the established star who becomes blinded by his unwillingness to accept the emergence of ‘Talkies’, helps a talented young woman on her path to fame. Peppy Miller, played by the lovely Berenice Bejo, is thrust into the spotlight after impressing George’s producer Al Zimmer, played artfully by John Goodman. Embracing the film world’s new-found technology, Peppy becomes the new ‘it girl’ while George slides precipitously into obscurity. His stubbornness and hesitation quickly transform into fear, vulnerability, and loneliness.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. On the surface it sounds like a gimmicky flick trying to appease the art house crowd. Why would I want to bring a date to a silent film? Put quite simply you do and you should. The Artist is about as brave as it gets, but it’s much more than that. It is beautifully acted, impeccably crafted, and chalk-full of indescribable moments. Moments that wouldn’t be possible if accompanied by sound. The filmmaker uses music and framing with an intelligence that must send his peer group reeling. Come Oscar night, this simple little love story will take its rightful place in history.
While others might opt for a adolescent vampire film or go to see an over the hill Tom Cruise jump out of a burning building, take your date to see The Artist. They’ll thank you for it..