Reccos: The Artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, James Cromwell, John Goodman

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a matinee idol in Hollywood before the dawn of talkies. His marriage is far from perfect, and one day he meets ambitious chorus girl Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and is smitten. Sound comes to movies, but he ridicules it. While everyone moves on to talkies he thinks its just a fad. George proclaims that people love him and come to see him and he sinks all his money into an epic silent film, while Peppy becomes a star in the new era.

The very first scene where George Valentin is enjoying all the attention showered on him shows how narcissistic he is. Some scenes stand out like the one where he puts on a show for the press when a fan Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) is pushed into him or the scene where he gives her a part despite the studio boss’s objections (John Goodman) or the one where Peppy Miller is playacting with George Valentin’s dress. Some scenes are very good like the one where George Valentin fires his valet Clifton (James Cromwell) or the one where he looks at himself in the glass window of a dress shop or the one where he tries to burn his movie canisters. The best scene is the one where Peppy Miller makes a comment about silent movies that it is just “mugging it up for the cameras” and that the old have to make way for the young.

Cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman is excellent. The movie was actually shot in color and then monochromed in the lab. Art Direction by Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould is just brilliant and it looks like one is watching a silent film from the 1900s. The Artist should win the Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction too but it might lose to Hugo in these two categories. Music by Ludovic Bource is excellent and the theme music of Vertigo is used in one scene. Editing by Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius is pretty good except that the movies drags just a bit in the second half and some scenes seem repetitive. Costume Design by Mark Bridges is spot on with the time period.

Jean Dujardin is just brilliant as George Valentin. He shows that one can convey emotions without even uttering a single word. He has already been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance and he should win the award. Bérénice Bejo is excellent as Peppy Miller and has been nominated inexplicably in the Best Supporting Actress category though she is the main female lead. John Goodman and James Cromwell are excellent too.

Screenplay by Michel Hazanavicius is excellent and he pays homage to the silent movies and also the movie Singing in the Rain. The movie is basically a tale of one man’s hubris and how he cannot change with the times. The Artist has been nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture. It should go on to win the Best Picture Oscar and Michel Hazanavicius should win the Oscar for Best Directing. It is the best movie of the year 2011 without a doubt. The Artist proves that one does not need color, dialogues (except for the last line) or some silly VFX to make an entertaining, endearing movie. This a movie for everyone who loves movies and shows how pleasurable even a silent movie can be.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Brilliant).

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