Silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) finds his fame plummeting during the coming of talkies, while actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) becomes a great success.
Jean Dujardin won a well-deserved Best Actor award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
I finally saw The Artist! I'd been eagerly anticipating its US release last month, only to find that it wasn't playing anywhere near me then. But at last it opened up in theatres in my state -- so this afternoon I got to watch it, along with my sister and mother. Thanks to you both for going with me! : )
I'd been wondering if this film could possibly live up to the hype!
The Artist was a different sort of experience. It's a great achievement and certainly a fine tribute to the time period of 1927 through the early 1930s, when sound was first dismissed as a fad and then later took over completely. So many actors and actresses really had their careers destroyed when talkies came about -- only a few were able to successfully make the transition from silents to sound.
Jean Dujardin was perfect as George Valentin -- he not only looked as though he belonged to the time period while embodying a sort of combination of John Gilbert and Douglas Fairbanks (favorites of mine), but was entirely convincing as a silent actor! Body language and facial expressions were so important in silents and his were very engaging throughout all facets of his character's success and later downfall. I felt so sad for him as the film progressed and his career waned -- it all felt so real because things like that actually did happen to so many people.
I loved Uggie as George's amazing Jack Russel Terrier / sidekick / best friend -- he also won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival: the Palm Dog Award for best performance by a canine. He was wonderful.
When I first saw the film's trailer, I thought that Bérénice Bejo looked much too modern to really fit well in the story's time period. My opinion on that hasn't altered, but her character certainly was charismatic and a great contrast for George. Their entwined, yet distant, careers were fascinating to watch unfold.
The black-and-white cinematography was quite striking! There were so many gorgeous shots that fit ideally with all the action that was going on in the film -- from George's self-assurance in the beginning, to his and Peppy's first meeting, the shock of being let go from the studio, his determination to finance his own film, the spiral downwards of losing both money and his career, his nightmares of talkies, the huge amounts of attention given to Peppy's movies, George's desperate suicide attempt by setting fire to his old films . . .
I don't want to give away the ending, but let's just say I was surprised by how it all turned out!
I definitely recommend seeing The Artist in theatres if you get the chance. Thanks for reading!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ½