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Mar 9, 2012

Review: The Artist (2011)

                  Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Uggie, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Bitsie Tulloch, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Jen Lilley, Nina Siemaszko, Basil Hoffman, Ben Kurland and Ken Davitian.

Directed By:
                         Michel Hazanavicius.

                This is a movie that everyone was talking about back when it was shown at the Cannes last year and since than there have been all the Oscars buzz for it. And a few days back as you all know, it won 5 Oscars including Best Picture and Director. I am a very big fan of black and white movies and also the silent ones and this movie to have shown that era when these movies were made was such a exciting thing and i was waiting to watch it. Thankfully i caught this movie days before the Oscars and enjoyed it so much, i think it deserves the Oscar no matter what people think, they always think the movie that won didn't deserve it, like always.

               The Artist is a French-Hollywood movie that revolves around a declining actor George Valentine and the rise of an actress Peppy Miller during the years 1927 and 1932 when the silent movies were being replaced for the first time by the talkies. George Valentine played by Jean Dujardin is a silent movie star, a very popular and beloved one. He meets Peppy Miller one day played by Berenice Bejo outside the theater in the crowd where she accidentally bumps into him and he makes a show out of it in front of the press. Peppy makes it to the front pages next day, she auditions for a part which she gets thanks to Valentine and slowly she gets more and ore small parts that transforms into big ones which leads her to the stardom. Two years later the studio where Valentine works announces the end to the silent movies which sounds very stupid to Valentine as he can't seem to let go of his love for the silent movies. Valentine announces his own production of silent movies, he acts, directs and finances them by himself. His movie gets a big flop releasing the same day as Peppy Miller's first talkie movie and is kicked out of the house by his wife Doris played by Penelope Ann Miller. He moves to a small apartment with his driver Clifton played by James Cromwell and the movie continues from there to the major downfall of Valentine as a star and the rise of Miller.

              I am a big fan of Black and White movies in general and somehow of the silent movies and i think making a movie like this in this time was a big risk. But i can't believe how great the whole viewing experience turned out for me, i found myself totally absorbed in the movie and the characters just like that. The whole setting of the movie really reminds you of those golden era silent movies and every technical thing in the movie is just spot on. It has a very comic and just enjoyable tone at the start when everything is okay and everyone is happy. The characters are at the peak of everything respectively and suddenly the shift in their life, one becomes a person they wanted all their life and the other becomes the exact opposite. Jean Dujardin was a perfect choice for the role and truly a great way to enter Hollywood. He has the whole charm and persona surrounding him both as himself and the character George Valentine and they both seems to compliment each other. You don't take a second to realize or believe that yes he is a star material in the movie, from the very first scene that shows the screening of Valentine's new movie, he is George Valentine like he always have been him or this person actually existed. The look he gives back stage when the movie is playing and during the credits when audience cheers up is just priceless. He charms everyone on screen with his wit and amazing personality.

              Valentine refuses to accept and go on with the new technology and simply stands up for what he believe is right which is something he have been doing all his life. He sticks with it right till the very end, a true man of his words and beliefs and a very strong one. The other half, you see him getting completely destroyed in every way, financially and he as a human being. I can't believe people says that the Oscar he won was just because of his whole on screen charm and comedy acts as he actually 'didn't act' or 'didn't cried or something' i mean really? What i think is that those people are plain stupid or they haven't seen the entire movie. In the second half you see the best performance by an actor this year, emotional wise and yes i believe his Oscar win was 100% deserving even though i had other choice and theories. Slowly Valentine gets lost in the deep dark corners of his self, he is financially destroyed and has to give his every thing in the auctions. He comes home in very anger and destroyed all the movies and sets them on fire but still simply can't let go of one thing, his love for Miller. Thankfully his very loving, caring and brave little dog Uggie saves him by catching the attention of a police. Peppy Miller who is at the top of her game finally comes to the rescue and things go all good for them in the end.

              I am sorry if my review seems hollow as i am reviewing a movie after a long time. So this movie is very well directed by Michel Hazanavicius who is deeply inspired by the work of big Hollywood directors of that and the other golden eras. I am impressed by his work of making everything believable and seemed to have a great control over bringing the same feeling to the movie and setting the whole atmosphere making audience to interact with not only the characters but everything else in the movie so they don't seems lost. Whether you are a fan of Black and White Silent movies or not, Michel have created a masterpiece that sets you off on a ride from the very start and a ride that you will remember for the rest of your life. Beautiful art direction and set decoration in the movie with lovely costumes. I really loved the change in both of them slowly according to the mood and situations of the characters and the same goes out for the characters, again, Hazanavicius seemed to have all sorted out. Nice cinematography of the movie and a well edited movie with superb score to it. The musical score no doubt needed to be the stronger point of the movie as it would help drive the movie and set the mood for every little scene and the detail of it and it does here. Some really amazing scenes like the dream sequence where Valentine sees himself troubled by the sound of everything which points towards his problems with the change. The sound of every little thing seems to bother him and is done with such a great fashion and thinking, you get every little point of all of the little bits and it is just remarkable. The scene where Miller and Valentine have a slow dance sequence that they can't seem to pull of as they slowly found themselves falling for each other is one of the best romantic scenes from a modern movie.

                 There are many other scenes too like Peppy Miller coming to George Valentine's room touching and observing everything then playing with his jacket and all. Or the epic dance sequence in the end of the movie which is done in a one go with brilliant choreography. Berenice Bejo in her supporting role lights up the screen with her presence and beauty. She performed very good and her transformation from a struggling girl wanting to be an actress to the famous star is very much believable the same as Jean Dujardin's portrayal of an star's fall from the greatness. I thought the screenplay was very well written as everything written was suppose to be no dialogues but just the visual acts. You love the comic bits in the movie, you love the on going romance and you seriously love and get totally effected by the emotional drama of it. When the movie finishes, you find yourself cheering and clapping with the dance sequence. A beautiful movie that is enjoyable to the very core and a truly brilliant classic.

Grade: A