The Artist is probably the first silent movie since Silent Movie, the comedy by Mel Brooks from way back in 1976. Believe it or not, the black and white retro feel of this movie gave it a fresh feeling for me. The film, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, has already garnered a lot of Oscar buzz. Don’t be surprised if this film is the darling of the upcoming award season.
Jean Dujardin stars as George Valentin. Valentin is reminiscent of the silent era film stars who never quite made the transition to "talkies." (Think Douglas Fairbanks or John Gilbert.)Berenice Bejo is Peppy Miller. When they meet at the beginning of the film, their paths are on opposite trajectories. Valentin’s is on the way down, and Peppy’s is on the ascendancy. To his detriment, Valentin does not see the handwriting on the wall – silent movies are on their way out and "talkies" are on their way in. Peppy is ready to make this transition, while Valentin is most definitely not.
Painstakingly made, the movie is stunning, beautiful, and incorporates many of the elements of silent movies, in particular Valentin’s dog, who steals the show, literally. The film incorporates many classic Los Angeles landmarks, such as the Bradbury Building and the Orpheum Theatre. Keep a sharp eye out. Costumes were done by Mark Bridges, best known for Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood. The movie spans 1927– 1932, and the period is well represented with set direction and costumes. The Artist has already won Best Actor for Dujardin at the Cannes film festival. Look for more awards as we move onto the SAG Awards, Golden Globes, and Oscars. A must see.
Reviewed by FIDM Library Staff Member Monika Earle