George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a Hollywood silent movie superstar, helps a film extra, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), get her first job. Both take a liking for each other. With the advent of talkies, Valentin’s career goes downhill and he sinks into oblivion, while Miller becomes a superstar. Does Miller return Valentin’s favour? Find out more in the review of The Artist.
Business rating: 3/5 (Three stars)
Star cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Uggie the dog.
What’s Good: The engaging and entertaining script; the comedy and emotions in the drama; the performances.
What’s Bad: The fact that the film is silent and in black-and-white format might put off a section of the Indian audience.
Verdict: The Artist is an entertaining fare that’ll do good business at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not?: Definitely watch it as it entertains and makes you laugh and cry.
La Petite Reine, La Classe Américaine, JD Prod, France 3 Cinéma, Jouror Productions, uFilm and Tanweer Films’ The Artist is a silent film. It is the drama about a Hollywood silent film superstar who sinks into oblivion when the era of talkies begins.
George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the cynosure of all eyes as the reigning superstar of Hollywood in the era of silent cinema. At one of his movie premieres, he bumps into an excited girl who is part of the crowd outside the theatre. Valentin meets the same girl on the set of his next film being produced by the same studio, where she is working as an extra. Valentin’s producer tries to throw the girl, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), out of the film because she, in a way, had caused the premiere of his earlier film to garner less media coverage as the media’s focus had shifted to superstar Valentin being in the company of the mystery girl rather than the premiere itself. But Valentin, who likes Miller, puts his foot down. Miller, therefore, stays on to do a small scene in the film with Valentin. Within a few years, she climbs the ladder of success. Her movie career receives a fillip with the arrival of talking pictures.
Around the same time, Valenitn’s career goes downhill as he adamantly refuses to be a part of any talking films. He attempts to make his own great (silent) film to prove the film studios wrong, but it flops miserably. On the day his film releases, a talking movie starring Miller also releases, and that becomes a hit. Valentin’s disappointment knows no bounds. But Miss Miller, who is still keeping track of Valentin, whom she adores, comes to console him. However, the proud actor rebuffs her.
Having lost all his money in making the movie and in a stock market crash, Valentin has to leave his mansion. His wife, with whom he shared a loveless marriage, has already left him. The only ones who stay with him are Clifton (James Cromwell), his driver-companion, and his pet dog. Frustrated, Valentin takes to drinking.
What happens then? Does Miller come to Valentin’s aid? Does he accept her help? Is he ever able to return to the world of films?
The Artist Review: Script Analysis
Michel Hazanavicius’ story is very good not only because it gives the audience a glimpse into the world of silent cinema but also because it is packed with emotions and comedy. The screenplay, also by Hazanavicius, has a lot to offer to the viewer in terms of comedy and emotions. Scenes in which Valentin is playing with his pet dog and in which he is meeting Peppy Miller inside his dressing room are very enjoyable and memorable. While the first few reels regale the audience with the grandeur of Valentin’s life, the last few make them emotional because of Valentin’s sorry state. Of course, the narrative is silent and, therefore, has no dialogues (except for a few slides of text), but it talks in a language that is universal. The beauty of Hazanavicius’ script is that a section of the audience will be so engaged that it will not mind the fact that there are no dialogues at all in the film. However, on the minus side, it is most likely that a section of the Indian audience will not be able to enjoy the drama which has, incidentally, been shot completely in black-and-white.
The Artist Review: Star Performances
Jean Dujardin’s performance is simply marvellous. He has a charming smile and lives the role of the superstar. He is brilliant in the comic and well as the emotional scenes. Bérénice Bejo, as Peppy Miller, matches up to the energy levels of Jean’s performance. She does very well. The duo’s dances are a delight to watch. John Goodman, as Valentin’s producer, impresses in a short role. James Cromwell, as Clifton, does a good job. Uggie, as Valentin’s pet dog, needs special mention for its wonderful antics. Penelope Ann Miller (as Valentin’s wife, Doris) and others support well.
The Artist Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
Michel Hazanavicius’ direction is good. He extracts very good performance from his cast members. He has made the look and feel of the film so authentic that the viewer feels that he has been transported to Hollywood of the late 1920s and early 1930s, which is the time frame the drama is set in. Ludovic Bource’s background score is what does the talking in the absence of any dialogues. It is fine. Production design, by Laurence Bennett, is superlative. Guillaume Schiffman’s cinematography is admirable. Editing, by Anne-Sophie Bion, is sharp.
The Artist Review: The Last Word
On the whole, The Artist is a very good fare. Due to the pre-Oscar buzz, the film can expect to do good business in the Indian cities.
The Artist releases in India on 24 February 2012.