Saturday, 2 March 2013

FILM: The Artist (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
How would you not want to? Lavished with awards throughout 2011, including Academy Awards for Best Picture, Actor and Director, somebody must have done something right.

What's it all about?
It's 1927 and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the height of popularity as a star of silent films when he meets Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), an aspiring actress. Two years later and Miller's popularity has rocketed while George's studio has ended production on silent films, making the switch to 'talkies', leaving George struggling to  cope with his fall from stardom.

Should you watch it?
I sat down to watch The Artist with a certain degree of apprehension, it was the first black and white or silent film I have ever really watched. Sadly these factors put off Mrs Media Worm so I watched it solo.

The Artist is like no other film I have seen (stating the obvious) before, in the same way I often lean towards black and white photography, I found the lack of colour enhanced the film's stylish presentation. After a short time I forgot I was watching a film with no dialogue, and enjoyably so.  Ludovic Bource's score sublimely supports the cast, with necessary dialogue provided by the occasional old fashioned dialogue intertitles.  

Best Actor & Best Dog - George & Jack
Before seeing the film, I'll be honest, I was sceptical of the film's hype, especially seeing actors unknown to a wide audience wining awards for Best Actor, but Jean Dujardin's performance as the proud, egocentric star George Valentin is as wonderful as I have seen lately. Dujardin seems built for silent film where expressions count for so much, ironic given the film's story. The contrast between his over-acted performances as the silent film actor and his toned down but still expression led performance as an actor in what is a silent film is subtle but fascinating. Berenice Bejo is just as rapturous as Peppy Miller and together the two are enchanting. Considering the film is French, I was surprised by the faces that popped up amongst the supporting cast, notably John Goodman, Malcom McDowell and James Cromwell. Credit must also go to Uggie the dog, probably now the most famous on screen canine since Snowy.

The stairs scene
Academy Award Best Director Michel Hazanavicius includes some stylish shots, my favourite being the shot of George and Peppy talking on the stairway of the Bradway Building while extras busily move around them on all levels at a seemingly faster speed.

The film's plot is actually a sombre, simple little romance story where very little actually happens but what does transpire does so leisurely, at an easy going pace, as befits the time.


  1. I love your review of this. It encapsulates everything that I love about this film. In hindisght, it is true that not a lot happens, but I think that is the film's charm.

    1. Thanks for your comment and thanks for adding my blog to your blog roll! Much appreciated!

    2. You're welcome. I love your blog because it caters to different media.