Not only is “The Artist” one of the best films of the year, it is also one of the most unique and beautiful films of the past decade.
Sure it’s a silent film -- and black and white to boot -- but you’ll love the “The Artist” because it’s made up of the best movie ingredients like classic Busby Berkeley-styled dance numbers, car chases, sword fights, epic and sweeping romantic scenes and Chaplin-esque slapstick moments, all neatly tied together in one delightful, simple story with one of the best film finales in recent years.
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius (“OSS 117”) “The Artist" elegantly shows the rise and fall of silent movies and silent movie star George Valentin. Valentin accidentally makes a star out of female fan Peppy Miller, and we are taken on a wild tour of fame and celebrity and old Hollywood movie making as Peppy quickly rises to fame in talking pictures and George is left behind as an artifact of a bygone era.
The idea of “The Artist” may come across as a bit pretentious for the average moviegoer, but the film couldn’t be farther from it. The love story between Valentin and Miller is one we may have seen countless times before, but the two stars and the strikingly authentic recreation of 1920’s filmmaking ironically propel “The Artist” into fresh, new territory.
Jean Dujardin as Valentin gives the most challenging performance of any actor this year. Through his full-bodied performance and his indelible facial expressions, (remember, no talking) we feel George Valentin’s pride turn to anguish and love turn to jealousy. Bérénice Bejo is adorable as the perky, yet tender Peppy Miller. The chemistry between Dujardin and Bejo is electrifying. Rounding out the international cast are John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller, James Cromwell and Malcolm McDowell.
Since the film is silent, the music becomes as important a character as George and Peppy. Ludovic Bource’s score becomes the voices of the two star-crossed lovers. Bource’s classic film score, in the vein of Golden Age composers like Max Steiner and Eric Wolfgang Korngold, accentuates every tap dance, slap, punch and kiss. Embracing the two leads’ brilliant performances, the stunning score immerses the audience in the love and tragedy of George Valentin and Peppy Miller.