I intended to write this review a long time ago. I saw the movie in the theater in December 2011 with Brian Mego, and then again a couple months later with Lauren. With the latest Best Picture about to be announced here in February, I figured I’d better write my The Artist review immediately.
Having watched 1928′s Wings as part of our Best Picture project, I was interested to see a new take on a silent movie. With a title like The Artist, I went in expecting an artsy, over-my-head kind of movie, but what I was instead treated to wound up being one of my favorite Best Picture winners of recent years.
Set in Hollywood in the 1920s, The Artist was a silent movie about silent movies. George Valentin is the greatest silent actor in the industry, but “talkies” are the next big thing and he doesn’t transition well and is subsequently flushed out of the industry completely. He then loses everything he’s ever earned attempting to produce his own silent film. Meanwhile, Peppy Miller, a girl who had first appeared in a photo with George in the newspaper, has risen to fame as the biggest actress in Hollywood. Okay, I am not going to try remembering the whole plot as it has been a year, so if you’re interested here’s the synopsis. In the very end, we find out why George Valentin was unsuited for speaking roles when the film breaks the silence and features a few lines of dialogue.
As I said, the movie was silent in terms of dialogye, so we were reading the occasional flash of text on the screen. There was sound, however, just as there was in Wings, just background music. It was also in black and white, adding to the experience. I wondered if the actors really had to learn lines for the movie or not… did they want to go for realism so we could read their lips? Or did they just learn a bunch of body language instead of lines?
I laughed out loud several times, something I never expected going in. And the star of the show wound up being a dog named Uggie in real life. It was easily the most prominent role for a dog in any of the Best Pictures. I rooted for The Artist to win Best Picture and was also pleased to see it win Best Director (Michael Hazanavicius) and Best Actor (Jean Dujardin). John Goodman also was excellent in his role of a producer, and Bérénice Bejo captured the audiences hearts in her supporting role.
My opinion of the movie was very favorable. I did see it in the theater twice in a span of two months, after all. It was one of the most unique movies I’ve ever seen and ranks very high on my list.