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The Artist Movie Review
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Released in 2012
It's 1927 in Hollywood, and Superstar of the silent screen George Valentin is at the height of his powers. But technology is moving quickly and the advent of the 'talkie' threatens to end his career. His chance meeting with a young dancer, Peppy, starts a sequence of events that turns both of their lives around.
George Valentin has it all, looks, stardom, adoring fans and an a faithful dog! Valentin is the star of the silent silver screen and has a string of Hollywood hits behind him. The gravity of his situation is not lost on him and he milks every opportunity to lap up the praise thrown at him by all of his minions, crew and public alike, he seems untouchable.
After the screening of his latest film, he is posing for photographs outside the cinema and is accidentally bumped in to by aspiring young dancer, Peppy Miller. At first Valentin is put out by the incident, but then realises the opportunity to show a caring side and poses with the nobody to ingratiate himself to the public even more.
This chance meeting elevates Miss Miller's status by getting her face on the front page of Variety and helps her to gain her first role in a movie. Their paths cross in Vaentin's next film and he convinces the Director to include her in it. During the shooting of the scene they have together, Valentin is unable to keep his concentration, this woman is obviously having a certain affect on him.
Soon after this Miller starts to rise the acting ladder and gets more and more parts in increasingly more important roles. Valentin also continues to make more films and retains his status as the number one star of the screen.
It is now 1929 and the movie is world is rocked when it is suggested that the future is in talking films. Valentin is shown a screen test and derisively tells the film company that public do not want to see him talk. From this moment on Valentin's world starts to crumble around him. Whilst Miller's goes from strength to strength, as she embraces this bright new world and becomes the new darling of cinema. Hit after hit see her replace Valentin as the Actor people want to hear.
Valentin makes a final attempt to prove that silent films and actors like him are not of the past and he finances his own film. The film flops and Valentin ends up broke and broken.
This is the movies after all, but you'll have to go and watch to see how it ends, don't want to complete spoil it!
Now, for my interpretation of the film that has taken the world by storm........I have to say that unfortunately it didn't rock my world. I haven't got a lot to refernece it by, that is to say, I haven't seen many silent films. But it seems as though things like facial expressions have been exaggerated. And the use of text on the screen to 'voice' what the actors are saying has been reduced. Perhaps these things have been done to over emphasise to an audience alien to this type of film that you are watching a Black and White silent movie, I don't think it needed it. The chemistry between the two leads is great, you really do get the feel that Miller cares for this man and she owes her career to him. Jean Dujardin does a brilliant job of creating the pompous Valentin whose career drops quicker than the proverbial stone and is rescued by the star he created.
The best scene for me was one where we do actually get to hear some vocaisation and Valentin is tormented in a nightmare by everything around him smashing and crashing and laughing, whilst he cannot make sound.
I feel myself wanting to like this film, not for the story or the acting, but the bravery of Michel Hazanavicius to make it and show the world that this can be done in a field dominated by CGI, robots and Superheroes. But show me another director in this day and age that will make a silent movie in Black and White and as they say, I'll eat my hat! This is where my synicism lies for the bloated praise that it is getting, and the undoubted raft of awards it will recieve.
To sum up, I'm indifferent about The Artist, I'm glad I went to watch, some of it I really liked, but if I'm going to watch another silent black and white film, give me Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin any day!