Katie from Pedestrian
I said it on Twitter and I’ll say it in real life – sequins sparkle, even in black and white. Do yourself a massive cinematic favour and go see The Artist. I think I also mentioned something about kissing Jean Dujardin, but I’m not very good en francaise so who knows!?
There are so many reasons to like this film, the whole thing felt like this joyous, engaging cinematic experience – it was more than just watching a movie, and I’m ultra impressed by my first foray into silent films. There’s a real authenticity in the way Michel Hazanavicius directed this film – from the opening credits of the actual movie, to the end credits of the films within the film, plus the camera angles, movement and lighting – it’s all so spot on. The music and score is also incredible and does a terrific job in keeping the momentum of the movie flowing nicely. Something I found quite interesting was the fact that my eyes felt super engaged the entire time, which I kept comparing in my head as oddly different to how they behave in a sub-titled film. In the latter, I’m always conscious of reading the words for the first five minutes, and then it just becomes part of the movie watching process and a more natural reflex.
In The Artist I don’t think my eyes, nor ears for that matter ever switched off to stop dancing around each scene that played out. The casting was also brilliant – Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo were perfect unknowns in the lead roles – their facial expressions and body movements brought their characters George Valentin and Peppy Miller to life, without ever being overdone or turning themselves into caricatures. I don’t even really want to talk about the plot to those who might not know about it – I only had a vague idea myself, and one of the best parts was having a relatively simple storyline unfold in a cleverly dynamic way. Don’t wait for this to come out on DVD – go to your favourite cinema, get some popcorn and a post-mix and just bask in all of the pleasure that the simple act of actually going to a movie affords – this is just that kinda film.
Neha from Pedestrian
Watching this film was one of those rare, perfect experiences for me. Maybe it was the fact that I was watching the film outdoors on a balmy summer’s night, it could have been the company, maybe it was the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, but mostly it was all about this special movie. The Artist is a dazzling tale told silently in black & white. It’s a movie with equal parts comedy and pathos, but most importantly the sheer joy will make your heart swell. The two leads glitter on stage: Jean Dujardin (George Valentin) is well-known in France for comedic roles but a relative unknown to Hollywood audiences. Actress Berenice Bejo (Peppy Miller) is also a fresh face, and the wife of director Michel Hazanavicius. They receive support from heavyweights James Cromwell and John Goodman (who is a rare actor that can be plausible as any character in any era of film; others at a similar level of fame could not have worked). And then there’s George’s Jack Russell Uggy (seen frequenting the awards show circuit at the moment!) who steals most scenes he is in.
This film is so much more than a homage to the silent era, it is elegant, beautiful and and filled with heartfelt emotion. The story itself grieves for an era that is fast-changing as the technologies and advances of cinema see the talkies emerge. This is depicted as a human melodrama for George, a star of the time, who can’t imagine why anyone would want anything else. The tools of silent cinema are employed perfectly by the director, and he does so because they still work, and they are engaging- not to be kitschy. As it shapes up to be one of the big winners at this year’s Oscars, you can’t help but wonder if the heart of this movie is sending a gentle message out to modern-day cinema’s plethora of 3D blockbusters, multi-million dollar budgets and franchise releases.
An unmissable, delightful movie for cinephiles and casual movie-goers alike.
The Artist at Open-Air Cinema, Sydney, January 12