"Perfect. Can we do it one more time?" - "With pleasure!"
Probably one of the most talked-about films of the year, if not the decade! 'The Artist' is the most recognizable silent films of the 21st century!
A lot has been said and written on this film, and my review will not be the exception of the majority of what's been said. This film is quite the accomplishment for writer/director Michel Hazanavicious. Although this is hist first transatlantic endeavour, Hazanavicious did wonders. He simply proved to every active director out there that simple is best!
He managed to get people from around the globe into the cinema theatres to watch a silent film; in our day and age when people are more and more driven to words and blabbering on screen, Hazanavicious was capable of mesmerizing the cinematic audience with no words, no dialogue, simply image, music and sound.
The story in brief: "George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the king of silent movies in Hollywood in 1927. Audiences just adore everything George is a part of. Along comes Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who you just know is going to be a huge star some day. George and Peppy work together on one film as George not only takes her under his wing, but an undeniable spark develops between the two. Over the course of the next few years, silent movies fade into obscurity as talking pictures or "talkies" explode onto the scene. George finds himself struggling for not only work, but a purpose to live as Peppy becomes the next big thing overnight." (www.imdb.com)
Hazanavicious innovative idea of shooting this film silent, black and white but also in a 1:37:1 aspect ratio has literally and figuratively brought Hollywood and the rest of the world by surprise, as it not only dares to experiment on a very unique film idea but also make the world experience cinema like the old days. He asks of his audience to relive the golden glory of the silent film era; an era full of romantic ideals and enthusiasm for what was to come in the future.
The absolutely vital ingredient for this film's success though lies in the protagonists; Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. A match-made in Heaven. In cinema heaven. These two actors, bring the enthusiasm, the energy and the passion needed to carry through the narration of the story. Their merge is astonishing, as the freshness in their performance, is able to magnetize every viewer on the big screen. An amazing pairing in my opinion, that manages not only to captivate and engage the audience with their very heartfelt performances, especially Dujardin who holds the lead role, but also both actors are able to let their faces light up on screen, thus reminding to the audience how powerful the face of an actor can be on camera.
Russian director Grigori Kozintsev once said "what would be the point of setting-up a camera to shoot anything, if that camera does not manage to capture the facial expressions of the character's emotional journey". And this is what exactly this film is about. It has the courage and the guts to remind us what we, as an audience, forgot nowadays; to pay a little less focus on the visual and a little more attention to the character development.
A worthy mention to the cameos and non-cameos of veteran actors such as Malcom McDowell, John Goodman and the always warm James Cromwell, as well as actresses that have many-a-time been underestimated by Hollywood producers Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller, are few of the names that simply add to this cinematic recipe of success.
The costume and production design certainly must have been an overwhelming task for the production team to fulfill but it accomplished to transfer us for an hour and a half back in the late 1920s with such ease, it made the make-belief all the more easy to buy in and get sucked in the feeling of the era. So wonderfully designed and mastered!
And it would be a tremendous error of me if I wouldn't praise the music design in this film. The soul and heart of this silent 'picture'. Ludovic Bource. A true artist who I do hope his name will echo loud and clear this coming Sunday evening at the Academy Awards Ceremony for the Oscar for Best Original Score, since to say that he did a superb job in the musical enhancement would merely be an understatement on my part. Thumbs up for the brilliant work he did!
This film is not just a brilliant masterpiece made for the wider audience to enjoy; it is an experience that everyone who loves and appreciates good cinema should indulge in! It is the wonders of all wonders of filmmaking, and it came from a very unknown background, and not a mainstream filmmaking co-operation that just wanted another blockbuster hit, but instead wanted to make magic on the big screen. And that it does.
Just to clear the air of a myth though. The film is not entirely in silence; and for those who will endeavour to watch this film, they will understand why I'm saying this.
I do urge people to go and watch this film. Support it, love it, and simply enjoy the ride!
Sound rolling. Camera rolling. Aaaaaaaaaand.....Action!!!
'The Artist' (2011)