Alfred Hitchcock once said ‘If it's a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on’ The Artist is one of those films. Without dialogue for 99.9% of its running time The Artist is quite a niche product for Harvey Weinstein Production Company and it has turned out to be an absolute critical hit and a favourite for Best Picture Oscar (which would be company’s second Best Picture in a row).
The Artist is set in 1927, and as someone will remember that is when The Jazz Singer revolutionized cinema as it was the first feature length motion picture with synchronized dialogue, the story centres around actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and the advent of sound. As the silent era dies, George Valentin dies with it, but also as the silent era dies, actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) rises to fame. At first George believes the advent of sound to be nothing more than a fad but as its popularity increases he begins to decline and fails to (and chooses not to) understand the new invention that is sweeping cinema.
Like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, The Artist is, at heart, a love story to the silent era, yet the film never becomes a lecture on the wonders of silent cinema but a restrained film that seeks to entertain with its stunning soundtrack, brilliant cinematography and charming performances. However, at the same time one sees the magic of silent cinema and falls under its captivating spell as The Artist does emulate the magic of silent cinema and the way the audience’s imaginations the captured by the events on screen. The Artist is not only a love story to the silent cinema but it is also a love story between the two central characters (George Valentin and Peppy Miller) which is so beautifully done and so engaging that the couples’ chemistry is funny, enjoyable and heartbreaking.
One would be hard-pressed to find a film as wonderfully enjoyable and moving as The Artist, and this is all because the film was made with more passion then you are likely to find all year. The Artist features a cute dog (called Uggie), clever sight gags and an incredible sensation of being taken away and fully immersed in a story. With The Artist being a film without dialogue for most of the film’s running time, The Artist is a truly unique film, a special occasion that, and I say this with 100% certainty, even those who never seen a silent film before will enjoy. The performances of Bérénice Bejo (beautiful and light-hearted) and Jean Dujardin (charming and comical) really give The Artist its heart and soul that makes the film so spellbinding. The performances from the whole cast beautifully delightful as The Artist ticks all the correct boxes.
The Artist is a treat to those who love cinema, but it can also appeal to those who don’t love cinema, one has to get out the mindset that they will bored by a silent movie, and they will appreciate The Artist as a piece of magnificently crafted artistic entertainment that harks back to the likes of The Jazz Singer and even ‘talkie’ classics such as Citizen Kane. Directed with style by Michel Hazanavicius and scored magnificently by Ludovic Bource (Which includes a Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock homage), The Artist is one the most flawlessly made movies of the year. It’s staggering, sensational, moving, engaging, and funny. The Artist is everything one would want from a film.
The Artist proves that you don’t need to 3D, you don’t need colour and you don’t even need dialogue to tell a compelling, emotionally engaging story but what you do need is a story that will engage, superb performances and a director who has a passion for the film he is making, The Artist is the best film of the year and it may just win an Oscar, if it doesn’t, shame on you Academy.