Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Artist- directed by Michel Hazanavicius

This is a quite lovely film, stylistically homage to silent movie, who would have the cheek to attempt this with a modern audience? It does feel strange at first as you stretch out your arm to turn the volume up (just me?) It is a little bit of filmic history with its portrayal of the transition from silence to ‘talkies’.

 It's a tale of a man averse to talking…in film and to his wife, Jean Dujardin as George Valentin is brilliant as the older man in crisis with the attentions of his younger guardian angel, Peppy Miller played by Berenice Bejo. The opening scene shows him being tortured into ‘talking’ on the set of ‘A Russian Affair’ which he stubbornly refuses to do and sets the tone for his defiance to embrace what he thinks is the faddy ‘talkies’, the laughable future of film. George Valentin is dashingly ridiculous, he has a dog that could out ‘mug’ him to the screen and as watching it you know his claim’ if only he could talk’ doesn’t ring true and the romance of George and Peppy, and a golden era of Hollywood, will seize the day.

The silence and the ‘mugging’ (exaggerated facial expressions that is) is the artistry and this is the comment perhaps?  As much as I love words, what this film does reveal is our reliance on body language and facial expressions to communicate. Think of what is lost in a text, email or a microblog like twitter? How many of us use emoticons, smattering them all over the place to help us communicate our words. Try not using that wink or confused face and see who starts to misinterpret your words, not get your joke or miss sarcasm. It’s fun. *wink*

So is something perhaps lost with the advent of ‘talkies’?  The Artist does settle itself into a happy compromise of progress and the up and coming star Peppy makes sure there is room for the stubborn fallen star of silence. It’s moving movie stuff people.  I particularly like the shot when George walks dejectedly away under the ‘Coming to theatres soon…Lonely Star’ billboard and his own ‘Tears of Love’ directed and starring himself, funded by himself shortly before the big crash, shows him disappearing into quick sand as the empty theatre is cut to Peppy crying at his demise.

George’s nightmares and panic at progress are in contrasting sound, it doesn’t sound (boom, boom) much but you do jump at the surrealist moment when watching it. Who could know putting a glass down or someone laughing could sound soooo loud? You see a broken man breaking further and on his discovery of Peppy’s ‘collection’ towards the end, it crackles with film noir elements.

The dancing was absolutely enchanting and bonkers. Please see it, if not just for the way George can swagger downstairs and smile at a life size portrait of himself. Never have I liked such a narcissistic fool, Dujardin does this brilliantly. And that dog? No words. All set against rather brilliant music from Ludovic Bource, there are too many moments to list where this film can touch you.

I have failed miserably to sell it to most people in my life (the sound crazy bunch) but perhaps you lot in blogland are more daring? I wish, I wish I had seen it in the cinema.

The Artist (2011) IMDb

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