Tuesday, 28 February 2012
The Artist 
The Artist might appear to some as merely a pastiche of silent American cinema, but in essence it is more than just that – it is an audacious experiment with form and style, an homage to a long-lost era where movies were more “universal”, a commentary on the general lack of staying power of silent screen dramatic works (as opposed to comedic/satirical works by the likes of Chaplin and Keaton which will always be lapped up by viewers), the dramatic upheavals brought on by the unleashing of talkies by Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer and the need for adaptability and smartness that this transition demanded, and of course, the director’s unabashed display of love for motion pictures in general. Made in the tradition of silent, black-and-white films of the pre-sound era, it chronicles the fall from grace of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent screen idol, upon the ushering in of sound (a fate that many faced then) – in a last ditch attempt at impressing his fast-receding fans he pumps in his own money into a mega-project which, quite inevitably, sinks at the box-office and takes him down along with it; and the simultaneous rise in stardom of Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) who experienced her first ‘two minutes of fame’ courtesy Valentin. Dujardin has provided a memorable turn as the heartthrob whose fortunes experience a dramatic reversal – the character’s natural charm, charisma and suavity get slowly eroded to reveal his inner vulnerability, which he portrayed with élan and incredible ease. With the arrival of sound musicals were bound to follow – this is hinted at by making fine use of Dujardin’s uncanny resemblance with Gene Kelly through a wonderfully choreographed tap-dance sequence before the wickedly ingenious final scene.
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Showbiz Comedy/Romance