Silent pictures never sounded so sweet…
Clearly an Academy darling this year, “The Artist” was sure to draw crowds full of the Oscar curious, myself included. For me, the films the Academy focuses on for their annual ceremony can be a tad repetitive, a bit pretentious, and, dare I say it, mediocre. But, this departure from the standard Hollywood “talkie” was a nice escape into a world where body language conveyed every emotion.
Jean Dujardin is respectable in his run for Best Actor with his portrayal of George Valentin, the love child of Gene Kelly’s debonair and Clark Gable’s pencil-thin mustache grin. Dujardin embodied the early Hollywood persona, filled with charm and gusto. Meeting his match in Bérénice Bejo’s Peppy Miller, who’s name serves as an adjective to her eager charisma, he interacts with a good mix of chemistry and dejection, watching as his career slipped into the hands of the newest starlet.
With a supporting cast of equally expressive actors (John Goodman as a director constantly searching for the “next big thing” being particularly energetic), the movie takes on a quality of, as my friend put it, “’Singin’ in the Rain’ in reverse”. Complete with movie stars falling fast into obscurity, innovate “talkies” taking over the previously silent genre, even a tap-dancing number sure to put a smile on your face, “The Artist” is a welcome departure from the action-packed blockbusters that make up the majority of today’s popcorn fare.
Throw in an intriguing dream sequence where George can miraculously “hear” the world around him and you’ve got a 21st century spin on an affair with old Hollywood, cinema status and all it encompassed.
For fans of the black and white era, as well as those who are more keen on modern cinematic advancements, I recommend that you indulge yourself in this movie that captures the essence of both. After all, where would the film industry be if it didn’t mix the past and the present in order to make the future?