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The Artist

by

Jeff Nelson

Whether or not you're interested in silent cinema, the film comes with an easy recommendation.

The Artist
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Film continues to involve year after year. Many filmmakers are attempting to make movies bigger and bigger to the point where it's almost unbelievable how different it is from only a couple decades ago. The Artist observes the past of Hollywood. However, this isn't the only movie of 2011 to tell a story of silent movies. Hugo references back to this type of filming, although The Artist tells a story through this time period as if it was the present. It tells the transition from silent to film with sound. However, not many audiences in modern times are interested in seeing a silent film. Once it was nominated for 10 Oscars, I knew that I should see it. I had heard about the buzz for a while, but it didn't sound like much more than a gimmick that the Academy would undoubtedly fall for.

Taking place in Hollywood, 1927, a silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion. Meanwhile, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. While there are many black and white films I highly enjoy, there aren't very many silent movies that I can say I have seen and have kept me engrossed. The Artist is obviously extremely different from anything else you'd expect to see in modern times on the big screen. The story is put together quite well. The two lead characters are both incredibly lovable and I felt attached to them rather quickly. As the film continues, the pacing suffers a little bit. However, it most certainly picks itself up and becomes highly entertaining again. Another issue I have is that there are portions that become repetitive. Yes, the dog that appears often on the footage is absolutely adorable. The problem is that the dog performs the same 'jokes' over and over. I don't remember the last time I've seen a dog play dead so many times in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The ending is predictable, as expected, although it's all about what leads up to the finale. Overall, it's an enchanting story that kept my attention from start to finish, even when it slowed down a bit. Even without hearing dialogue from our leads, I found myself more invested in the characters than I have in many modern flicks that do contain audible dialogue.

A lot of the credit goes to the actors for the characters being so personal. Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin. He's absolutely phenomenal and very convincing. I wouldn't be surprised to see him take home the Academy Award for Best Actor. He clearly dominates this role. Bérénice Bejo performs as Peppy Miller. She's quite incredible herself. She has many more exaggerated expressions and actions than Dujardin's role has, but she acts alongside him in a marvelous fashion. Bejo may also take the Oscar gold for Best Actress. Even though neither of these actors could express the characters through dialogue, tone, and delivery, they master the roles. You don't see performances such as these very often, so I highly appreciate them when I get the opportunity to witness them.

It appears that many critics and especially the Academy have praised The Artist to no end. I wouldn't be surprised to see the film win most of its ten nominations due to how much the Academy has been talking about it. I walked into the theater trying to keep an open mind, but I felt that it still seemed a bit gimmicky. Well, despite my biased feelings walking into the movie, I still highly enjoyed what I saw. The script is very well written, with the exception of it slowing down around the middle and how repetitive it becomes at times. The acting is superb on all levels and is sure to impress all moviegoers. The Artist is a charming picture that deserves recognition, but I still don't find it to be strong enough to win Oscar for Best Picture, despite the fact that I wouldn't be surprised if it did due to all of the buzz. Despite my feelings towards people overhyping movies, The Artist still is a strong piece of cinema. Whether or not you're interested in silent cinema, the film comes with an easy recommendation.

My Rating = Four Stars

Next movie: The Woman
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