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"With pleasure." (FILM ONLY)
The Artist (DVD)
Member Name: PoignantBob
The Artist (DVD)
Advantages: Writing, direction, cinematography, music, acting.... pretty much everything. And then Uggie.
Disadvantages: Some will be put off by the fact that it's a silent film.
George Valentin, played by Jean Dujardin, is the poster boy of the silent era. The most famous man on the planet, he is adored by everyone and his films are anticipated with riotous enthusiasm by the masses. One day, on the red carpet, a member of the public stumbles out of the crowd and literally bumps into him - a moment which captures the imagination of the press, and will lead them both down a path they couldn't have imagined. That member of the public turns out to be Peppy Miller, Bérénice Bejo, an up-and-coming actress. When the film world starts moving away from silent movies toward 'talkies', this spells the end of Valentin's career, but merely the start for Peppy Miller. As one spirals downward, while the other rockets toward international stardom, the pair grow quickly apart. Alone, miserable and desperate, George hits bottom and it's not long before he is contemplating suicide. There is only one person that can make him realise that life is worth living... but can she get through to him in time?
This is a truly wonderful, wondrous film. Its majesty lies in the fact that not only is it in itself a silent film, but it recognises that it is an ode to the era and dares to reference that directly on a couple of occasions. Michel Hazanavicius, who writes and directs, has such a clear understanding of the silent era, but also of cinema itself and all of the powers which it holds. This, while being shown in every scene of The Artist, is no more evident than during a dream sequence which occurs almost halfway through. So brilliantly constructed, and so clever it is, that the effect is completely jolting, pulling the audience out of the story for a while and making them question the very fabric of the world which these characters occupy. So magnificent, in fact, is the effect that I was almost drawn to tears. Not because of anything that was happening to the characters (although, it has to be said, it is a perfectly emotional scene) but just because it was so brilliant, I found myself having an emotional response to the actual filmmaking prowess.
The only flaw I, personally, can find with this film is that some people won't like that it is silent, and that's a shame. I don't know about the rest of the world, but certainly in the UK there have been several instances where people have gone to see this film and ended up asking for their money back... because there's no dialogue. There's so much to be loved about this movie, the lack of dialogue actually being one of those things, that I find it difficult to understand how someone could let that spoil their enjoyment. It is such a refreshing film, the kind which comes along maybe once in a generation, that dares to explore a way of communicating with an audience that wouldn't usually be considered. It's fast-paced, upbeat, hilarious... and there's Uggie, the dog. This is no ordinary animal role. This is a dog seemingly possessed in the best possible way. He exudes personality in a manner that I have never witnessed in a film before, and it is nothing short of exhilarating at times. So watchable is this animal, he even get scenes where he is the centre of attention, his performance holding the film together and keeping the audience on the edges of their seats. He also contributes to the comedy in a big way, managing to fool you into believing he possesses a sense of humour.
Everything that has gone toward the making of this film is, while perhaps not all perfect, at the very least, brilliant. The cinematography, the music, the art direction. All of the performances are wonderful, not only from the three main stars, but also from the supporting cast in John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, the list could go on... There really is so much to be taken away from the film. It's pure entertainment while also being a history lesson. It's a history lesson while also being a celebration of the cinematic art-form. It's a celebration while also being dramatic, engaging and at times incredibly thrilling. My review may not seem particularly balanced, but believe me, I have tried to think of some flaws to put forward to you - anything that I could reasonably assume would be worth relaying as a fair criticism of the The Artist, but I can't. It's cinematic gold, the kind that we don't even dare wish for these days. In an age dominated by films into which very little thought seems to go, how delightful to have something different to experience. It's something to cherish.
Summary: It's that most rare of cinematic gifts, a film that encompasses everything we love about cinema.