Friday, October 21, 2011

The Artist - Movie Review

'The Artist' begins in 1927 during the heyday of silent films and follows the lives of two people as Hollywood begins to transition in to an era of sound. One is in danger of being left behind while the other becomes an overnight sensation and, although their stories are intertwined, they are constantly being pulled apart by both time and technology.

This movie is primarily a love story but is also so many other things that, by the time the credits role, you realize you are appropriately at a loss for words when trying to describe such a beautifully crafted silent movie.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, you see a real passion for film as, even in a picture with no dialog (almost), you are taken through every emotion conceivable through brilliant acting, a wonderful score, and visual cues both obvious and hidden so deeply, you will need to watch more than once to catch everything.

The two main characters of George Valentin and Peppy Miller, who you fall in love with as quickly as they fall in love with each other, are played perfectly by French actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Rounding out the cast is a great selection of Hollywood performers including John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, and a brief appearance by Malcolm McDowell.

One performance you will not want to miss is that of Uggie the canine scene-stealer. His tricks and comedy routines are a perfect complement to his owner George's dashing, Hollywood persona. Not only that but he becomes an integral part in how the movie reaches its conclusion and in a way that defines a dog's role as man's best friend.

There are so many clever and inventive ways that Hazanavicius plays with the idea of both sound and silence that are integral to the story, you can almost feel the magic of cinema presenting itself in front of you. I don't want to go in to detail here as a lot of these bits of movie magic are either fun or shocking moments that are best left to experience while watching the film.

Over a lifetime of watching movies, there are certain ones that you remember for various reasons and they always manage to leave such an impression that others pale in comparison. Having already taken home awards from various film festivals, "The Artist" easily deserves to take its place among the year's best and there's more than a bit of irony in the fact that a French film maker has given us such a picture perfect recreation of a Hollywood that has long since past.

I hope that a lot of people get to see this movie as it is an extremely entertaining, very well thought out homage to an era that gave us movie stars that could say more with just the shrug of a shoulder than with a script full of words. This is not the type of revenue driven blockbuster that we see in theaters today, but "The Artist" still manages to leave you speechless and outshines all the others with both class and style. 'The Artist' is the reason we go to the movies.

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