When I first saw this trailer for “The Artist” at the movies a few months ago, you could hear people mumbling about how different it was.
A silent film? In the 21st century?
Now, it’s the sexiest title being thrown around during awards season, and justifiably so.
From the opening (rather than closing) credits to Jean Dujardin’s Clark Gable mustache, you just know that the next 100 minutes will be reminiscent of old Hollywood.
Though a silent film (other than a few words at the end) isn’t for everyone, Ludovic Bource’s musical score is both whimsical and playful as it literally serves as a soundtrack to supplement the silent images moving on the screen.
It’s downright smile-inducing at times, particularly when George Valentin’s dog appears, and over-the-top dramatic in others when the scene calls for it.
The acting is superb by both Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, the two leads, whose chemistry is undeniable from the first time their characters meet. There’s no need for words to understand what they’re silently saying to each other.
But in case facial expressions and lip readings aren’t your thing, all that is important to the plot is written on text transitions in order to keep you in the know.
At the center of the film is the protagonist’s resistance to change, something that is relatable in an ever-changing world thanks to technology. When Valentin allows his pride to get in the way of making “talkies” rather than silent films, his career and life begin to fall apart. His wife leaves, he is dropped by the studio and he is literally left with nothing — except his ever-faithful dog.
There are several creatively brilliant elements and bits that are brought to life on the screen, but I’d rather not spoil them and let you see it for yourselves.
And, much like Valentin proclaimed to the studio execs when he learns that he must become a talking actor to stay employed, those involved in the making of this movie took a risk and created a masterpiece:
“I’m not a puppet, I’m an artist!”
My verdict: MUST SEE!