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!
You can find more information on this U.S. movie on Wikipedia and IMDb.
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)
Hi Shimky! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I stopped by yours and really enjoyed this post. I’d been meaning to watch this movie, but reading this post has encouraged me to make it happen.
I saw this movie a few weeks ago and loved it. Everything came together so beautifully.
Hi! Really good post and a really good movie! I wouldn’t mind reading your review of the new Tim Burton’s movie Dark Shadows. I’ve just seen it and absolutely loved it! Curious what your thoughts are as you obviously know a lot about movies/cinema.
Oh and thanks for stopping by my blog!
Yes, we’re looking forward to seeing that one!
Now, I want to watch it ! lol. You make it sound so appetising… Great job Shimky
and thank you for dropping by my blog.
I agree to avoid watching the trailer because it’s like the short version of the whole film. Not only the music score is very good, but Jean Dujardin’s performance is really enjoyable.
I loved The Artist. My favorite scene was the feather one.
I love this film but as a silent film buff, I actually did not like the music. I didn’t feel it was an accurate portrayal of real silent films. The ending music was good (in the final silent scene), from what I recall but the rest left me disappointed. I felt the acting was good from Jean duJardin but I wasn’t as impressed with the other actors. I know I am being hard on them when this is something they had to learn but I felt they could have done more research as actors. Still I loved the film, because of its uniqueness to today’s times. And the storyline was typical for a silent film.
A truly beguiling film and Berenice Bejo.. well
I thought the film was magical…but the true star was the dog – what a great actor!
This move should be viewed by all budding filmmakers. Why? Because, they did more without sound and in black and white than many movie with all the bells and whistles.
Shimky, this looks so fantastic. I love your website and what you’re all about. I’ve read several of your reviews now and I’m looking forward to seeing The Artist, 50/50, and The Intouchables. Thank you! And thank you for following my blog! Just wondering, have you seen Dangerous Methods, and what did you think? I was looking forward to it but felt it was a bit lacking. I’m also keen to see Anna Karenina and Les Miserables. Any thoughts on those?
Hello, Little Miss Ling
A Dangerous Method (2011) has been on our watchlist for a long time now – we just have to get around to it.
Anna Karenina (2012) hasn’t really hit our radar yet, to be honest, although we love Tolstoy and, of course, Miss Knightley. I’ve added it to our long list – thanks. In a similar vein, perhaps… we are keen to see Marie Antoinette (2006) with Kirsten Dunst, directed by Sofia Coppola; it looks sumptuous.
We have no plans to watch Les Miserables (2012) as we’re not fans of musicals, although Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is amazing.
Thank you for writing!
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I LOVE your blog – your writing and your layout 🙂 I love the Artist too; it was my number one film in my Top 10 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Cool blog! You’re absolutely right about this delightful film! Thanks for taking a look at my blog too.
I liked ‘the Artist,’ but I was nowhere near as into it as you appeared to be. It was a well done film, and as I said in my review of it, a fun and admirable nod to the movies of the silent era, but I never understood all the vast amounts of praise heaped on it, making the film the most celebrated movie in French cinema. My main beef with it is that nothing in its story is terribly interesting. It’s simple, but not massively effective by any means. You can feel mildly related to both the male and female lead, but neither, like the events of the story, are that interesting.
I will concede that the music and direction is commendable, but storywise, it’s nothing special by any means. It does its job I guess, but nothing here will last on the shelf that long, because this is a character-driven story that has pretty passable characters. I really wonder if this would have gotten any attention from the Academy at all if it had not been neither French nor a drama.
Hi. Thanks for your comments.
I think the magic of The Artist is not in the story but the excellent craft of the actors and their interaction with each other; their faces are sublime. The film plays out almost like a musical, it is so theatrical. If the same film was a talkie, I don’t think it would be special at all. All the parts somehow mesh together and create a wonderful feeling in the viewer. Well, in this viewer, at least!
Very sympathetic review, thanks.
I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Mel Brook’s Silent Movie in this context, another film which appears anachronistic since the dawn of talkies and which is even more of a parody of the genre.
Thank you for the interesting tip, Chris. I haven’t seen that one yet; I’ll look it up.
Absolutely LOVED this film. The Artist was truly one of the best, most innovative films of the past decade — witty, compelling, and beautifully crafted. Beautifully crafted films are few and far between, with the last one I would describe that way being The Illusionist with Ed Norton.
i rank The Artist on my list of worst films i have seen. The lead actor was horrible and the storyline left me wishing i had cleaned my bedroom or read a book, anything would have been better. i am a huge fan of film, but not this one. If it had been a talkie or in colour, it would have been ignored. Watch Cinema Paradiso for a film for film lovers.
I thought The Artist was magical. Cinema Paradiso is also excellent!
i was quite surprised how much i hated it. And i also love French cinema and not because i live here now. 🙂 i am curious, perhaps you can help me. How do you separate your blog pages? i wanted to put my film reviews in there own space. Thank you.
Ocean, email me at email@example.com and I will happily provide instructions.
“It is a film which is excellent for your health.”
Completely agree! Great post 🙂