Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Artist (2011) - ★★★★★

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writers: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle

The Artist is a gift that I'm sure the whole world can appreciate, which is the gift of bringing silent films back into the public eye. It's quite a revolutionary film in the way that it did something that hasn't been done for a long, long time. It was nice to watch a new movie where people acted with their faces rather than using their voice to accentuate how they feel. As the great Gloria Swanson once said in her legendary role as Norma Desmond, "We had faces then." This movie shows that we have faces now, and may continue to have faces if the silent movie trend does indeed catch on. I very, very much hope that it does.

Imagine Sunset Boulevard (1950) meets Swing Time (1934) meets Charlie Chaplin. It had the tragedy of the silent movie era dying, the infectious glee of classic dancing and costumes and the hilarious wit of Chaplin. It's about a famous silent movie star (Dujardin) who kick-starts the career of a young and ambitious woman (Bejo) just before the dawn of the talking pictures. It's a sweet and funny film packed with classic homages to the silent film era.

Jean Dujardin knocked this role out of the park. It's like he was born to be a silent movie star. It's not easy to have to say everything with only your face, but he did it better than most professionals of the 1920s. They could not have cast anyone better than Berenice Bejo for the role of Peppy. Her big, beautiful eyes and pearly white smile made me melt. Together, Dujardin and Bejo have magnificent chemistry. The two make one of the most lovable couples in cinematic history.

Having won Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, The Artist made history as being the first silent movie to win since Wings in 1927. It had something to prove to people, which was that you don't need sound to have great dialogue. People don't need to talk in every scene to say what needs to be said. This movie has proven all of these by being funny, charming, beautiful and holding its own compared to other great silent movies.

I think this is one of the greatest movies of the last 50 years. It hits all the right notes and blends in so seamlessly as a classic silent movie. Bejo and Dujardin suddenly popped into the eyes of Hollywood and showed them that the French can indeed do it better. The Artist sets a benchmark for the new decade and forces every film-maker that comes after it to lift their game. That's what makes it legendary.

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