Monday, 9 January 2012

Admiring The Artist

The Artist (directed by Michel Hazanavicius) tells the story of George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin), star of the silent screen. The film begins just before the rapid extinction of silent films and tracks George's demise. The downward trajectory of George is opposite to the rapid ascent of the new sweetheart Peppy Miller (played by Berenice Bejo). Valentin, in fact, gives the energetic Peppy her start, impressed with her dance moves and flirtations. She becomes the star of the talkies as Valentin is rejected by the studio that wants fresh meat for the talkies.

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Even though the film is entirely silent and the story is set in Hollywood with English titles, the film is quintessentially French. Hazanavicius delights in physical humour, a stylish eye for detail and charming characters who create a joie de vie. Although Valentin's wife leaves him and he ends up in squalor, there is a sense that each of the characters are ultimately good and innocent. None of the characters have really done anything wrong, they are just victims of situations and history. The end of the silent films coincides with the beginning of the Great Depression and George's personal descent.

Ultimately, this is a French romantic comedy and the audience waits for the destined lovers to find one another. This is a cute, funny, simple film perfect for a date or evening with a girlfriend.

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I just feel sorry for Berenice Bejo, the female lead. She is given the most exquisite art deco dresses and looks effesvescent and entirely charming throughout. I'm sure she's stunning in real life, but unless she sticks to period dramas, will she ever look quite as perfect?

Similarly, Dujardin becomes a French hybrid of George Clooney and Fred Astaire. His comedy has a wink and a sparkle to it. I dare him to find many roles 1/10 as precious.

Summary: Great, light film to see. Pity the actors. 3 1/2 stars out of 5.


  1. Lauren, you have the best movie reviews! You make me want to go watch it right now! Sounds like a fantastic tribute to cinema and the details of the era!

  2. I can't wait to watch this movie, I'm so excited about it! x

  3. I saw this film last week and I absolutely loved it! Berenice Bejo really does suit the 20s and 30s style perfectly doesn't she? I am so interested to see what she does next.

  4. Anna,
    Thank you so much for the continued encouragement. I don't actually see that many films so I try to pick ones that I know I'll actually love.

    It's genuinely worth seeing. I saw it in a late afternoon matinee-- I imagine at night it would be far more atmospheric.

    I'm thinking a Chanel campaign or at least a Chanel dress might be on the horizon for Madame Bejo. If I were a designer, I'd certainly be clamouring to use her.

  5. This sounds intriguing, I must check it out! XX