So why does it work, a silent movie eight decades after talkies took the world by storm? Why did it win so many awards? Why on earth would you want to see a film without dialogue unless it was a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton classic?
The Artist is a successfully different experience. It is enchanting. It is sublime. And it is a huge amount of fun. These are some of the reasons why you should see it.
The greatest allure of this picture is that it is a silent movie and completely out of place, in an era where no-one should rightfully dream of going to the cinema to see one. But they did and in droves. In the years since the death of the industry, several contemporary filmmakers have paid homage to silent comedies. But how many have you heard of? Watching The Artist is the chance to see a rejuvenated version of a classic format. And you can trust the buzz: this is cinema at its best.
The story is simple, as is usual with a non-talkie, but no matter. The two main actors, Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, light up the screen with their faces and body language. The acting is exquisite, the casting immaculate. One moment, Dujardin and Bejo are dancing a light step and smiling with sparkling eyes at each other, the next moment, they look crestfallen, their eyes downturned. The continuous sharp-shifting between comedy and sentimentality is straight out of Chaplin’s book, and it continuous to work. You will be under their spell seconds into the movie.
On one side, the film is a bit of an inside joke which we the audience get to share. We know it is a silent movie and we know it shouldn’t be one. People don’t make those anymore! The actors ham it up a little, parodying facial expressions and body language from those early days. But it is done subtly; at no point does it seem that this silent format is inadequate. Quite the opposite: it is delightful. And that is probably what is most astounding: we would go and see more of these if they made them as well as this one.
The cinematography is perfect, the direction impeccable; but it is the music score that shares top billing with the acting. The soundtrack by Ludovic Bource is quite superb. It sounds as if he has taken all of his favourite classic soundtracks of the silent era and amalgamated them into one masterpiece. It cannot be over-emphasised how important the music is to this film.
Seeing The Artist is one of those experiences which you come away from feeling elated, mesmerized, even a little rejuvenated yourself. It is a film which is excellent for your health. Don’t miss your shot!
As always, we recommend you don’t ruin any surprises by reading spoilers or watching this trailer:
Title: The Artist
Language: This is a silent movie!
Direction: Michel Hazanavicius
Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius
Cinematography: Guillaume Schiffman
Editing: Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
Score: Ludovic Bource
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Bitsie Tulloch, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Uggie (as Jack the dog)