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Movie Review – The Artist (2011 – France)
Honored by The Academy for very good reasons!
(The Artist is the winner of the 2012 Oscar for Best Picture, Best Art Design, Best Direction, and its star, Jean DuJardin, won Best Actor in a Leading Role.)
What a delight this picture is, and what a surprise! I’m a huge fan of a number of silent era films as well as of black and white cinematography, so I looked forward very much to seeing The Artist , which is silent and shot in lovely black and white. But at the same time I was worried that it would make fun of the old movies I adore. I had nothing to worry about, it turns out, because this movie pays loving homage to film history while at the same time feeling as fresh and charming as Berenice Bejo's Peppy Miller, the film’s leading lady.
A must see for film buffs
Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, the biggest star of the silver—and silent—screen in 1927. The tentative beginnings of the sound era fail to impress him, and his refusal to even attempt the transition to talkies threatens to end his career. The story line spins out against the grim reality of the Great Depression, and it’s told beautifully with a combination of gestural acting much toned-down from the style of the real silent era, and a lot more title cards than they had, as well. It works perfectly, aided by the talent of the cast (including a wonderful terrier named Uggy), terrific set design and direction that pays homage to a plethora of classic movies. There is a tip of the hat to the breakfast montage from Citizen Kane , the staircase from Fritz Lang;s Spies , a taste of the fencing magic of Errol Flynn, Hitchcock’s trademark camera angles—the list is impressive but never hits us over the head. It’s fun, and it’s there if you wish to see it, but the film can easily stand on its own merits.
Watch the trailer for The Artist:
Uggie, a wonderful companion and great canine actor
Special mention needs to go to both Uggy the terrier, and the wonderful score by Ludovic Bource. It’s impossible to imagine this picture working without either.
Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.
(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at RobertaLeeArt.com.)
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Rating: PG - 13, 1 hr. 40 min.
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Directed By: Michel Hazanavicius
Written By: Michel Hazanavicius
In Theaters: Nov 25, 2011 Limited
Box Office: $12.1M
Distributed By: The Weinstein Company
Jean Dujardin - George Valentin
Berenice Bejo - Peppy Miller
John Goodman - Al Zimmer
James Cromwell - Clifton
Penelope Ann Miller - Doris
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