The Artist boasts of a stellar star cast, and most of them unknown to this end of the world. The movie was a light romantic comedy with top notch performances from the entire cast, and nothing seemed out of place. Especially the first 20 minutes seemed picture perfect, an almost Utopian world with a happy man; so flamboyant in style; walking up and down with an air of finesse in his antics. The film has a linear narrative, with an amazing direction and choreography.
The movie beautifully etches the trajectories of two individuals who sail through both ups and downs in their respective careers. About the performances, Jean Dujardin a relatively fresh face to me added an élan and charisma to George Valentine, the thriving star of the silent films. Dujardin, based on my friend’s inputs, is a household name in France, as he was a part of a host of TV shows, and is reckoned to be one of the best comic actors of his generation. Djuardin’s fascinating portrayal of the vivacious star makes the entire film even more captivating. He is sublime in depicting the king of the silent films, who offers small little expensive tokens to make up with an ever badgering wife, as well as undergoes a traumatic phase owing to his downfall. His dapper look brought back the memory of Gene Kelly from Singing in the Rain, a musical, again based on the transitional phase of a silent film production company to a talky.
Another major lead is Bérénice Bejo, a surprisingly refreshing performance. Bejo lives through Peppy Miller, a young dancer who admires Valentine to an extent that she harbors a certain platonic love for the aging superstar. The chemistry between Djuardin and Bejo is startling. Bejo adeptly pulls off both the diva Peppy Miller, as well as the aspirant young dancer; who sashays with exuberance. Both the leads render and endearing performance, their light-hearted camaraderie on the screen is invigorating. The surprise package in the film is the amazingly adorable dog, Uggie, whose frolics add to the feel good factor of the film.
The imagery used to re-create the silent era is breathtakingly stunning. The superb cinematography enlivens the black and white frames. Personally, I was a bit skeptical about the whole idea of a black and white silent film made in the 21st century; nevertheless the vintage air of the film inundated my skepticism.
After being conditioned with films encompassing epic dialogues and metanarratives; watching this film without dialogues was a brand new experience, The Artist, as a whole reverberates, without dialogues. The costumes were a commendable effort, as it provided a perfect setting for the time frame the film intended to capture. It’s really a treat for those who love vintage clothing and accessories. Hazanavicius’ The Artist bears a superficial resemblance to Kelly’s Singing in the Rain, as it was a musical. Yet the tap dance sequences and background score reminds you of Kelly’s masterpiece.
As we know simplicity is not as simple as it seems; this applies to The Artist as well; the film turned out to be a fine product owing to its intricate detailing, and fine craft. However, there were some usual clichés and predictability in the film, but owing to the vintage aura that this silent film endorses; one can ignore the trivial glitches.