Though our focus at Goodbye Babylon is typically on the more off-the-beaten-path works of culture, every so often a major work comes along that cannot be ignored. Michel Hazanavicius’ cinematic triumph, The Artist, falls squarely into this category. Set in 1920s “Hollywoodland”, The Artist is remarkable breath of fresh air that is beyond welcome in a time of lighting-paced special effects and CGI one-upmanship.
Though the storyline is fairly simple at its core, the acting and directing is flawless, making for a charming, witty, and fulfilling cinema experience, that quite frankly might be one of the best that I have ever had. While some may think that this is a tribute to the days of yore, this film really is a bona fide silent film, true to the genre and era. Sure, there are nods and winks to certain films, but to suggest that those were anything but fleeting and very discrete would be criminal.
The film is set around an actor, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) whose career we see start at its peak and seemingly dive into a steep tailspin, and an actress, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) whose career is launched by a chance encounter with George Valentin outside of one of his screenings. The ensuing plot line is funny, touching, dark, and uplifting, taking the audience to unexpected places on the ultimate path to true romance… all in the absence of dialogue. Dujardin and Bejo are tours-de-force in their roles, deserving of every award and nomination that they have won to date. Special mentions are also deserved for George’s dog and for Clifton, the driver.
It really is remarkable that Hazavanicius was able to accomplish the production of an authentic silent movie in this current era of mega-budget, special effects-laden productions. This is as satisfying of a movie-going experience as I have ever had and the response from the public gives me hope that cultural works such as The Artist still have a prominent place in our society and are seen for their value over the flashier works that offer far less substance.
See this film in the theatres!!!
5 Stars – Mick