In a land where big budget films draw audiences, where the cinematography (Lord of the Rings), the sound effects (Hurt Locker) the animation and special effects (Avatar) win awards, The Artist has transcended all boundaries and bought us back to a simpler time. With simple gestures and small one-liners to let the audience know what they are doing on the big screen The Artist has managed to capture the essence of what “acting” really is.
What holds the movie together is the story; the story of one man, George Valentin. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the king of silent movies in Hollywood in 1927. Audiences just adore him, women swoon over him and men want to be like him. George is on top of the Hollywood kingdom and to add to it he is a charming persona, pretty much the perfect idol. Along comes Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), she steals a kiss from our lead on the red carpet and overnight becomes someone who is destined to be the next big thing. Peppy starts work on her first movie with George and she ends up falling for him. Of course simultaneously she also wants to be a huge star some day. George and Peppy work together on one film and George not only takes her under his wing, but an undeniable spark also develops between the two.
Sadly, pictures with sound are introduced and George is asked to start working in those. But with the huge ego he has, George ridicules the whole concept and disregards movies with sounds as ‘silly’. Over the course of the next few years, silent movies fade into obscurity as talking pictures or “talkies” explode onto the scene. And George, due to his adamant nature finds himself struggling for not only work, but a purpose to live as Peppy jumps at the chance to work in the ‘talkies’ and becomes the next big thing overnight.
The movie has a lot of high notes and the highest one of them is Jean Dujardin. Jean leads the movie from start to the finish and is par excellence in his portrayal of a man who experiences the heights of stardom and all the way to the abyss of it. A special mention must go for the dog Jack who really is the biggest form of comic relief in the film. The way he plays dead and covers his head with his paws is really cute and the relationship between George and Jack is tender and poignant, absolutely heartwarming. The relationship is even closer than the one George and Peppy share. Bérénice Bejo is the romantic twist in the movie and she too does a brilliant job in her role as the love struck yet strong lead woman. The romantic angle is brilliantly shot for although it is apparent that they both love each other, the lead stars never even share one kiss in the movie! Such is the beauty of a silent movie, that all they need to showcase their feelings are just expressions and emotions…no words, no song and dance, just a look of longing in their eyes.
The concept of a silent movie in the current world where dialogues and background music help define the mood of the movie should be utter ridiculous. But despite all stereotypes, the movie exceeds expectations….the laughs are there, the charms are there, The Artist has a firm grip on your heart and your attention and never really lets it go during the course of its run time. The faces of the lead actors keep you glued and actually steal the scene.
For those who love movies, who pursue it relentlessly, who just watch movies because they just like to, The Artist is not something you can afford to miss. It’s a sad state of affairs that people get turned off by the theory of a black and white movie with no dialogues, but if you can open your mind and allow a little bit of creativity in yourself, you should definitely watch this movie and rest assured you will fall in love with it. It’s clearly a product of a thinking director, where everything in the scene has a story to tell and just like real life, the movie ends beautifully with a song and dance. I would recommend each and every one of you to go ahead and watch this one; it’s something you really shouldn’t miss.