Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
It would be accurate to describe 'The Artist' as a modern cinematic experiment, but that would make it all just a little bit soulless. This black-and-white, mostly wordless film is really a love letter to a bygone era – that of silent cinema – but in a wonderful way, writer-director Michel Hazanavicius shows us just how important it is to move with the times.
You can see it in that telling scene in 'The Artist' when silent movie star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) is shown the rushes of a talkie for the first time by the studio head (John Goodman). Valentin bursts into laughter in the screening room; he can't envision that something as basic as sound is the future. As he rejects the idea, you know what's coming next – the era of films like Singin' In The Rain, that will sound the death knell for silent movie stars like Valentin.
At the heart of this homage to cinema is a charming little love story that plays itself out as starlet Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) meets her idol George Valentin. Her career kicks off as an extra in a small scene in Valentin's film, but as the talkies come in, she ironically upstages her screen hero.
The film's story is told the old-fashioned way – through title cards, exaggerated facial expressions and a dramatic background score – and so often, you're reminded of watching a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton film. However, Hazanavicius never once abandons skill in his journey. Watch that scene when sound actually filters into the film; as you expected, it literally is a silent movie demigod's personal nightmare.
To be fair, the film drags slightly in portions, but it's the performances – from the utterly charming Jean Dujardin, to the livewire Berenice Bejo, and even that adorable Jack Russel terrier Uggie – that never let your attention wane.
I'm going with four out of five for 'The Artist'. If you love the movies, you'll be helplessly captivated – this is a film that begs big-screen viewing. Don't miss it for anything.
Rating: 4 / 5
KS Sundaram, Bangalore
A Archana, Chennai
Maheshwari Trivedi, Ahmedabad
Y Kumar, Hyderabad
Bhavya Chopra , New Delhi
Gautam K Datta, Kolkata
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