Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Film Review: "The Artist" (2011)

"I won't talk! I won't say a word!" Which is what The Artist presents to modern audiences. This French romantic comedy drama in the style of a black-and-white silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, The story takes place in Hollywood, between 1927 and 1932, and focuses on the relationship of an older silent film star and a rising young actress, as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by the talkies.

The film stars Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller. Dujardin gave an astounding performance that is reminiscent of a real life silent film actor - Lon Chaney, Sr. Chaney was a famous silent film actor, he is regarded as one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema, renowned for his characterizations of tortured, often grotesque and afflicted characters, and his groundbreaking artistry with makeup. Chaney is known for his starring roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera. His ability to transform himself using makeup techniques he developed earned him the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Faces." Sadly his career was also ended by the talkies, the silent cinema and his career died with him. Bejo also gave an astounding performance as the young, perky Peppy Miller, like Dujardin’s performance, her performance was reminiscent of a famous actresses - Greta Garbo. Garbo was a Swedish film actress. Garbo was an international star and icon during Hollywood's silent and classic periods. Many of Garbo's films were sensational hits, and all but three of her twenty-four Hollywood films were profitable. Garbo was nominated four times for an Academy Award and received an honorary one in 1954 for her "luminous and unforgettable screen performances". In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of greatest female stars of all time, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman. Just like Miller, Garbo launched her career with a leading role in the 1924 Swedish silent film The Saga of Gosta Berling. Her performance caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer, chief executive of Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), who brought her to Hollywood in 1925. She immediately stirred interest with her first silent film, Torrent, released in 1926; a year later, her performance in Flesh and the Devil, her third movie, made her an international superstar. With her first talking film, Anna Christie (1930), she received an Academy Award nomination. In 1941, she retired after appearing in twenty-seven films. Although she was offered many opportunities to return to the screen, she declined most of them. Instead, she lived a private life, shunning publicity.

The Artist is a real pleasure; propelled elegantly forward by delightful performances from Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo it is the most unlikely of feel-good movies. It subconsciously provides commentary on today’s cinema, about the fact that it is bombarded with horrible, ugly and bombastic sounds and we have forgotten how movies really used to sound. With this film, just sit back and enjoy the visuals.

Simon says The Artist receives:

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