Casting a spell
Dancing, acting, romance and comedy draw you in. Black and white films are not making a comeback. Still, Hazanavicius updates vintage movies with technical artistry and soul.
Acting then was all pantomime and passion, a larger-than-life tribute to everyman and woman. That’s what makes this film irresistible. The Artist is mostly silent but filled with music and superb screenplay. It engages your imagination in a fun, new way.
Movie within a movie
The film opens with the shooting of a spy movie in 1927. Studio boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman, randiant) directs. George commands the scene. The players shimmer in sepia and silver.
George discovers a pretty dancer, Peppy Miller. On his recommendation, the extra lands her first movie role. Bejo’s great, beaming smile captures the magic of being discovered and loved.
Downfall of a legend
George’s home life is miserable. His wife is about to leave him. Uggie, a Jack Russell terrier, seems to be his only friend.
As Zimmer swoons over the new talkies, George scoffs. Just like that, Zimmer and Hollywood pass him by.
Peppy’s star rises
Talkies will usher in musicals and dance. Peppy becomes the new sensation. George produces a silent film on his own, not so much out of reverence, but because he’s going to show ‘em. His movie flops.
The Artist is a tribute to Hollywood as heaven and hell. Peppy radiates as much love as she receives from her fans. She stays true to herself, decent and kind.
George loses everything and begins to drink. Afraid, he insists that the world revolve around him. Broke and suicidal, he sends his loyal chauffeur Clifton (James Cromwell) packing.
Golden Globe winners
Dujardin triumphed at Cannes and the Golden Globes for this role. The Artist also won Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) and Best Original Score. It is nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
Peppy can’t forget George. The Artist shows a world where the best new thing embraces a golden, venerable past.
Big hearts and enterprising heads prevail when change rocks the world. With arch comedic whimsy, it’s a wrap. (5 out of 5 stars)
If you like The Artist, you might enjoy: Midnight in Paris.
The Artist 2011 / PG-13 / 1 hour, 40 min
Cast Overview: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter, Joel Murray, Ken Davitan, Uggie the Dog, John Goodman
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama