Saturday, 18 February 2012

2011 films: #4


Directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Well, The Artist was of course self-consciously different. Deliberately, purposefully different. It’s not that modern cinema doesn’t offer much opportunity for creativity, it’s just that this very modern curse of ‘satiety’ keeps getting the best of us, and we again and again evoke the past for a breath of fresh, half-forgotten air. 

The Artist is a silent movie. It’s a 20’s stylization. It’s black and white. Also, it’s really, really good.  

Set in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932, The Artist is stylish, exquisitely crafted entertainment. At its heart is a silent film star George Valentin (played so charmingly and convincingly by Jean Dujardin) who faces moral and professional crisis with the appearance of ‘talkies’ and cinema’s new stars (notably a beautiful young actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo)). After years of awe-inspiring success he gradually falls into deep and humiliating oblivion. Which, of course, is exactly the moment that is designed to test the true Artist. It's a noble cause, and it's impeccably realised on screen. Through beautiful silence, through awkward gestures, through amusing and touching facial expressions. 

The film has a very playful mood, and while being carried away with its spotless style (which is natural in this case), it also works on an emotional level. It’s funny and it’s heartbreaking. But most importantly – there’s titillating fragrance of true art in every scene of the film. 

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