Movie Review: The Artist (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Comedy


In 1927, there’s no bigger silent movie star than George Valentin (Jean Dujardin).  One day he bumps into a fan named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) outside the studio.  Peppy impulsively kisses George, and that lands her picture on the pages of Variety.  She then auditions to be an extra in George’s film, and gets a non-speaking role.  George gives Peppy some advice, make yourself unique, and gives her a mole.  There is also a romantic spark between George and Peppy, but George is married.  Peppy climbs the showbiz ladder slowly, but she makes it to the top, just as the talkies come out.

George decides to swim against the tide and make a great silent movie called “Tears of Love” which he produces and directs.  He makes this movie in 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, the movie tanks, just as Peppy’s career takes off.  By 1932, George has hit bottom, he is doing nothing but drinking.  He auctions off all his possessions to stay in his house.  But the sadness starts to wash over George, and he sets fire to all his films, except the one that Peppy is an extra.  George is saved by his dog, and taken by Peppy to her mansion.  Peppy even gives him a role in her latest movie.  Nothing can seemingly save George from his depression.  He drives to his burned out house and takes out a gun.  Peppy drives to George’s house, does she stop him from killing himself?

Words cannot describe how much I love this movie.  Some art-house movies are dense and unapproachable.  This movie is as warm and loving as a hug from a dear friend.  The Artist is a love letter to classic Hollywood movies, not just silent movies, there are touches of the Astaire Rogers movies, there is a scene that reminds me of something from Citizen Kane, there are undertones of Sunset Boulevard.  There is a scene that’s stunning.  It shows two sets of staircases, Peppy is going up while George is going down, symbolizing their diverging careers.  It is above all a love story, simple and direct.  The cinematography is amazing, not a wasted shot in the whole film, every shot has a purpose. The acting is impeccable.  Jean Dejardin is cool and sophisticated, his face is expressive enough to carry a silent movie without a word.  His character always has a ready smile, and the viewer grieves when the smile disappears.  Berenice Bejo imbues her character with a million watt smile that never leaves her.  That enthusiasm is infectious,  buoys this movie, and helps it rise above other similar movies. The chemistry between Bejo and Dejardin is unmistakable (they worked together  before in OSS  117) and their interaction adds a sweet tenderness to the movie.  There is not a false note in this movie.  Go see it and find out.

The Artist.  Art with Heart.

  1. Raviananda says:

    I wasn’t sure what to expect at first when I went into the theater to see a silent movie. I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised. The silent aspect proved to be more than just useless novelty. I like the way you described this movie; it is definitely warm and loving. You can relate with the characters and you grow to root for George who tries to maintain the integrity of his discipline in an ever changing arena. The visuals alone are enough to engage you in this movie. Not once did I find myself wishing for audible dialogue. Also, the dog totally added a special charm to this movie. I want one!

  2. It was probably my favorite movie this year.

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