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The Artist Movie (2011)

The Artist

Review by Waitsel Smith

5-Star Masterpiece - Best Picture, Best Romantic Comedy-Drama, 2011 - starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and John Goodman; written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius - Weinstein Company

Rarely do I see a movie that I would call "perfect"… but this one is. It has everything: a wonderfully touching story, great performances, beautiful cinematography and score. The one thing it lacks is sound. That's right - it's a silent film. Because it is about a silent movie star, the producers decided to make the film itself silent. When I first heard about it, I doubted that a silent film would work today, let alone get to me - but it did. It is the most delightful film I've seen in a long, long time. The details of late 1920s Hollywood, when sound movies were making their debut, are perfect: no film has ever been successful at capturing that period, in my opinion - until now.

With great charisma and charm, French actor Jean Dujardin portrays silent film star George Valentin (loosely based on Douglas Fairbanks), the hottest idol in Hollywood, and someone who really enjoys the spotlight. Then he meets Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), a young woman who wants to break into film herself. George is taken with her and decides to give her a break; in the process, they fall in love. Then sound enters the picture, and movies go from silent to talkies almost overnight. As George, who is unequipped for this change, watches his star fall, Peppy's rises meteorically. It's a classic love story set against the most turbulent years of Hollywood.

The filmmakers masterfully use the medium of silent film to tell their story in a very poignant and very clever way that I predict will take the Oscars this year by storm. (Dujardin has already won Best Actor at Cannes and the Golden Globes for his performance, and the film itself has won Best Comedy and Best Score at the Golden Globes.) There are many nods to Hollywood icons, including Singing In The Rain (which deals with the same time period), A Star Is Born (which, like The Artist, deals with the rise of a young actress and the fall of an older actor), Asta (the scene-stealing dog from The Thin Man series), etc. John Goodman is wonderfully cast against type as producer Al Zimmer. For those who love good movies, this one will steal your heart.

Rated PG-13


Waitsel Smith, February 15, 2012

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Text © 2011 Waitsel Smith. Photos © Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.

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