The Artist Review
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Each year, films seem to get noisier and flashier, their computer-generated effects more eye-popping. So, in a time of 3D and CGI, no one really expected a filmmaker to release a silent, black-and-white film. But that’s exactly why the sheer creativity (and novelty) of director Michel Hazanavicius’s clever new, old-style film, The Artist, is taking audiences (and award voters) by storm.

The Artist stars Jean Dujardin as silent film star George Valentin, who’s at the top of his career in 1927. Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), meanwhile, is just an eager young fan. But after an encounter with George at the premiere of his latest hit, she decides to audition for a role in a film—and, with a little bit of help from the charming star, her first role kicks off a promising career.

It isn’t long, though, before things in Hollywood begin to change. Silent films fade away as talking pictures gain popularity. And while Peppy’s star is starting to shine, George finds that his is starting to grow dim.

The Artist is certainly unlike any other movie to hit theaters this year—or this millennium, for that matter. The old-school style definitely takes some getting used to—especially if you aren’t accustomed to reading your movie dialogue. For a while, in fact, you might find yourself struggling to try to read the actors’ lips, trying to figure out exactly what they’re saying. Eventually, though, you’ll realize that that’s not really the point—and you’ll finally be able to settle back, stop worrying about the details, and simply take it all in.

In a film like this one, it’s especially tricky to find the right tone. After all, it would have been so easy to turn The Artist into little more than a parody of an old silent film, overdoing the tinny music and the actors’ mugging for the camera—making a mockery of the classic style. But it would have been just as easy to take it too seriously, making the film oppressively heavy—and, as a result, painfully dull for audiences who are way too accustomed to big budget action and flashy effects. Either way, the novelty would have worn off, quickly losing the audience’s attention.

Somehow, though, Hazanavicius manages to find the perfect tone. The resulting film is thoughtful and dramatic, with plenty of subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) symbolism. But it’s also witty and playful. You’ll get caught up in the story (and the subtle romance) of these two stars—cool, dashing George and the appropriately named Peppy—but you’ll also laugh at the antics of George’s lovable, scene-stealing dog.

The Artist is definitely an artistic film. Film buffs will absolutely adore its old-fashioned charm, its engrossing story, its pitch-perfect performances, and the sheer novelty of it all. But that doesn’t mean that it’s strictly for the art house crowd. Even if you normally shy away from artsy, subtitled movies, you’ll still be entertained by this unusual little film. It’s a delightful cinematic adventure that certainly stands out in a sea of CGI.

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