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The Artist (2011)

Posted on the 12 February 2012 by Mattstewart @Mattandcinema

The Artist (2011)

Even though I have several classics just waiting to be reviewed, I always end up at the local cinema to see something else before I get the chance. This week it was The Artist, which as you probably already know by now was a real treat. But the question everyone wants to know is where does The Artist stand against the best of the year?

As of now The Artist would rank among my favorites of the year (top 10 easily) but certainly not my favorite. Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, we all know he was daring enough just to make a silent movie; however, to be deserving of the Best Original Screenplay award everyone thinks he is going to win, I would have liked a bit more of an ORIGINAL story. 50/50 deserved to be nominated more. Other than the fact that I could pick the story apart before the plot unfolded, I loved everything about The Artist. A stunning film, that for the most part earned its praise.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a loved silent film star that just cannot seem to do anything wrong with his pictures, but his whole life changes the day his newest movie, A Russian Affair, premiers. After the film is over (receiving praise of course) Valentin is posing for the Press when a young lady, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) is accidentally pushed into Valentin, and for show he goes along with it as the Press go wild with their pictures. The next day Miller is everywhere on every newspaper that is constantly asking the question “Who is she?”.

With a little help from Valentin, Miller quickly gets a signing job with Kinograph Studios (the studio Valentin works for) and she slowly climbs the charts to becoming the “next big thing”. But as this continues the idea comes out to put sound in movies, and everyone involving the film industry loves it, except Valentin. This marks the end of silent cinema, and possibly the end of this legend’s career.

Right, like I said, the only thing new in The Artist is the fact that there is no sound throughout the film (which might I add is entirely a breath of fresh air). The story is old news, and the length is fairly short. Considering I went in to the theater blind I had no idea what I was going to see, so with the Original Screenplay nod I did think there would be more originality to it.

With that being said, the acting and directing more than make up for that tiny little problem. Jean Dujardin is an absolute delight, his facial expressions are hilarious and believable, maybe not worthy of a Best Actor win, but undeniably worthy of the nomination. Berenice Bejo is fantastic as well, the perfect casting choice. There were also enjoyable performances from the supporting cast, including the always funny John Goodman. Well, always is a strong word.

In all honesty, despite thinking The Artist may be a little overrated by some, Michel Hazanavicius probably deserves to win Best Director, though I do want Scorsese to take the crown. The fact that Hazanavicius even decided to make this film just shows how truly talented he is, to be frank, most directors today wouldn’t have the chops, and I applaud Hazanavicius for that.

Final Word – I stood out in weather below freezing for a solid fifteen minutes in a short sleeve t-shirt to get tickets to The Artist. It was all worth it.


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