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The Artist (2011)

Starring:

Basil Hoffman

Bérénice Bejo

Beth Grant

Bitsie Tulloch

Ed Lauter

James Cromwell

James Cromwell

Jean Dujardin

Joel Murray

John Goodman

Ken Davitian

Malcolm McDowellMalcolm McDowell

Missi Pyle

Directed by:

Michel Hazanavicius

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

Country: Belgium, France

The Artist so far has amusingly polarised opinions to a massive degree. There are those who think that this is a unique and masterfully executed movie and those who entirely miss the aspect of dialogue and fart gags. I am definitely planted on the former camp but refuse to believe that it’s a generational thing as a four month old baby covered in its own vomit couldn’t fail to be impressed.

Michel Hazanavicius’ near-mute movie begins with silent movie star George Valentin (Dujardin) enjoying huge success at the top of the movie world in 1927 but a chance meeting with Peppy Miller, a beautiful fan (Bejo), marks a huge turning point in his life. He convinces her to audition for a bit-part in a show and as she moves up the entertainment ladder and gains fame, he shuns the talkies, seeing them as a passing fad, and in doing so becomes increasingly irrelevant.

A bit like a blind or deaf person having their other senses hightened, in doing away with the dialogue Hazanavicius has worked his socks off to perfect the other aspects of the film to create a sight and sound spectacular with plenty to laugh, wince and cry at. The bottom line is that is a genuinely fascinating film to watch that’s beautifully crafted and great fun. A lack of dialogue doesn’t mean the soundtrack is not important for the end product as the music is crucial to the storytelling and is perfectly used throughout – heavy and melodramatic in some places and up-tempo in others yet always remaining subtle and unobtrusive.

It seems that the role of George Valentin was made for Jean Dujardin as the actor shows all the star qualities of his character. His emotions are all expertly employed with the dexterity of his facial expressions and mannerisms and bucketloads of charisma shines through. I, for one, wanted to lick his face. It’s not just him, as star turns come from all those around him, including Bejo and the dog (although he’s more likely to want to lick my face).

It's Got: A dog that can out-act Adam Sandler, perfect cinematography, a compelling plot

It Needs: Just one really filthy line to break the silence

Alternatives:

Hugo, OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies, Singin' in the Rain, Slumdog Millionaire

Summary

The Artist is a talkie life-lesson with some of the best dialogue ever heard on screen. A must see for all fans of Dawson’s Creek. Honest.

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