Friday, February 24, 2012

Movie Review: The Artist

Now here is a type of cinema the world could use more of. Shot in gorgeous black and white, The Artist is a breathtakingly beautiful film and a passionate, funny, touching, glorious and incredibly romantic ode to the classic 1920’s silent film era. It’s criminal to even call it a film because it’s a piece of art – delightfully feisty art, packed with magnificently colorful characters and moments. Not only does this film justify its 10 Oscar nominations, but it also offers you the most fun you’ll ever have at a movie theater.

Writer-director Michel Hazanavicius weaves a rich mélange of eye-popping tones in The Artist. The story, acting, direction, artwork and costumes gracefully mingle to form a lovely portrait of the 1920’s cinema and Hazanavicius beautifully flexes the period trappings. It is 1927 Hollywood, and George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a colossal star of silent romantic adventure sagas. He has a grand life at his mansion with his glamorous wife (Penelope Ann Miller), his little pet dog and a chauffeur (James Cromwell). Things take a turn when his studio boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman) comes across new technology – movies with sound, and realizes that they would soon replace silent films. George scoffs at the idea of this new technology, and parts ways with his producer. He proceeds to direct, produce and star in his own silent films, with disastrous results, while his former love-struck co-star Peppy Miller (Bérénice Béjo) becomes a talkie Hollywood movie star.

Director Hazanavicius finds the right tone and no portion of The Artist feels uneven or over-the-top. The entire cast is outstanding, particularly star Jean Dujardin who with this role has pretty much affirmed his place in Hollywood with his Best Actor Oscar nom. Dujardin effortlessly nails numerous silent film burlesque guiles that you thought were extinct. Bérénice Béjo is charming as Peppy Miller, beautiful even when her face is covered in gloom. There’s even the hilariously rambunctious John Goodman and a warmhearted cameo from James Cromwell. Sadly there is no category for cute dogs in the Oscars or the one in this film would’ve scored a nomination.

There’s sheer magic to be found in Guillaume Schiffman’s stunningly exquisite cinematography that makes every frame seem like a vintage storybook illustration. The Artist is a film that celebrates films, and it plays as homage to classics like What Price Hollywood and A Star Is Born and a brilliantly inventive update of Singing in the Rain. There’s even a dash of the Charlie Chaplin films, resplendent with the elements that made them marvelous, though with its own creative alterations. What works the best in The Artist is that beneath all the homages to Hollywood's bouncy 1920’s, beyond the references to the pantheon of filmmakers, and behind that gorgeous photography, there is this simple truth that when you watch great cinema, it duplicates the feeling of being in love.

The Artist is entertainment in its absolute crystalline form. You would be a complete fool to miss it.

(First published in MiD Day)


  1. "there is this simple truth that when you watch great cinema, it duplicates the feeling of being in love"!! Must say your review is as beautiful as this movie :)

  2. this review clearly shows how admire, adore and love good cinema!!! this is the first time i see u giving 5/5 review

  3. One of the few movies which kept me glued throughout. Especially Dujardin..his raw charm would disarm even the coldest heart. And Béré Excellent review and crisp..:).. I hope the movie wins big.

  4. Artist is a well made movie which barely entertains .Lot of efforts have been put in bringing the actual feel of a silent film of 1930s. Enough research was done with respect to settings,makeup, costumes and acting was fairly good too.But the basic elements of a film as in an engaging story, a tight screenplay is missing .Well , no complaints about the script as its a silent movie . The intention behind making a silent film in the year 2012 could be a tribute to that era or a mere gimmick to attract Academy award committee and critics . I am not sure about the first but ‘The Artist ‘definitely succeed in the second .

    Artist is a silent movie about a movie super star in 1930s who loses his stardom with the inception of talkies.Well I Cant write anything more than that about the story as there is nothing beyond that. Just because it is nominated for Oscars I made myself sit all through the 90 minutes of the movie. I did not find a valid reason to appreciate this movie as it has failed both in techinical and creative aspects.We have moved a light year away from silent movie era with respect to technology so there is nothing for ‘The Artist’ to prove in that area and at the same time I would have got flattened had it succeded in the creative front by narrating an engaging story without using the basic and most important technology “the sound” which it didnt .

    It will only be liked by people who can connect and feel nostalgic about silent movies or by people who just look for something novel to appreciate no matter its worth appreciating like the Oscar committee . Last but not least , there is no compelling reason for the movie to be titled as ‘Artist’

    Tail piece : In the last 1 minute of the movie , a 3 second dialogue will let the audience know the reason behind the reluctance of the lead character to move to talkies from silent movies which does not add any value to the movie though. In any case I would not be surprised if this movie wins the best picture as it has every stereotypical thing Oscar’s committee looks for.Watch it only for the heck of it .

    2.5/5 stars

  5. After blasting the Oscars in your earlier post, I couldn't understand your constant reference to them in this review :) I loved the Artist and Hugo..They were both beautiful movies and highly entertaining..And honestly I don't give a fuck about how many oscar nominations they got :)

  6. I was expecting someone to ask me that :) ... Anyways I'm not really endorsing the Oscars here, I was just pointing out that the film is absolutely worth all the hype it has received over the past year.

  7. I first saw this film on the computer. Mistake. The next time I saw it in the cinema hall and was blown away. Completely agree with your review and if I were to add anything, it would be special mention of the stunning music which, as it is in all good silent films, is as much a character as anything else.

  8. Agreed. I'm really looking forward to composer Ludovic Bource's next film.

  9. Have they used that dog as a metaphor?