Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardain, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Date: 30th December 2011
The character of George Valentin is Hollywood’s biggest silent movie actor, yet the emergence of sound — and one Peppy Miller — seems intent on ruining all that he depends on.
Laughter is a sound that Michel Hazanavicius will be more than familiar with. First of all as he was laughed out of the office of almost every single movie studio in Hollywood. But now he is laughing all the way to the bank having achieved the seemingly impossible: creating a black and white silent movie with more charm than Mary Poppins, more to say than Citizen Kane and more style than Singing in the Rain.
Set in late 1920′s Hollywood, The Artist is the story of George Valentin (Dujardin), a silent movie actor who seems to have it all. That is until the arrival of Peppy Miller (Bejo), and the introduction of “talkies”, films with sound set to eradicate the wordless wonders Georges career has become so dependent on.
The film succeeds in the most part due to the outstanding performances of its two leads. Dujardin oozes style and sophistication, this role could so easily have been ruined by over-the-top acting, yet because of the subtle actions and body language of the lead players, it succeeds in delivering a performance that speaks volumes despite the lack of sound. Fairbanks would be proud. Bejo’s portrayal of Peppy Miller is pitch perfect, effortlessly conveying confidence and charisma, but also delivering emotion and turmoil as she sees the life of the man she loves dive as she is catapulted to success.
A charming and elegant film, beautifully directed with amazing performances from two relative unknowns. A breath of fresh air and a worthy homage to a bygone era. 5/5