by Ellen McKay
I recently saw the movie “The Artist”. It in black and white and is basically a silent movie. There’s music, but almost no dialogue.
It’s about a silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who meets Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) a young dancer set for a big break, and how the invention of “talkies” (movies with sound) affects both their careers. Valentin helps launch Miller’s career, but as time passes, her career threatens to eclipse his.
The leads are both excellent. They both play very well to the camera, particularly Bejo. When she smiles at the camera you get the feeling she’d get anything she’d want with that smile. Dujardin also mugs it up well, and plays the part of the leading man to the hilt (I kept thinking of Clark Gable when he was on screen). Bejo and Dujardin have excellent chemistry and work well together.
The movie is beautifully stylized – all the clothes, particuarly the movie costumes, are lovely to look at.
The movie moves along nicely, although the first half is better than the last half. It was very refreshing to watch a movie without quick cuts, or cliched dialogue, or the starlet of the day – just good, old fashioned acting and plot.
This is petty, but I felt Bejo was a bit too old to be a “young dancer” getting her big break. The actress is in her mid-30s, and you can see the lines around eyes that give her age away. It’s a little thing, but it kept distracting me.
Also, I would have liked more placards – there were a lot of times people were talking, and I really wasn’t sure what they were saying – and there was no placard to help make it clear.
Nope, that’s not a typo. Uggie is the dog in the movie – well, more specifically, he’s Valentin’s dog. Uggie is charming and steals every scene he’s in. He does tricks, he plays dead, he’s utterly adorable – and goes everywhere with Valentin. He’s both his constant costar and his pet.
Should you see it?
If you only like pictures that are loud, in your face, and fast paced, then this movie is definitely not for you. But if you can appreciate a quiet drama with some excellent comedic moments, then I’d say check it out. It’s not in wide release though, so you may have to hunt around.