The Artist Review
It is funny to think that a film about the demise of the silent film genre may actually revive it (or at least revive a genre that has largely been extinct for almost a century to the largest extent possible). That film, Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist, is a fun film that takes a stale (or at lest thought to be) concept a long way. The Artist follows a silent film star (played by Jean Dujardin) trying to adapt to the change to talkie films and his relationship with an emerging film star (played by Berenice Bejo).
The least you can say about this film is that it is a well constructed film. Michel Hazanavicius' direction of this film is impeccable. He creates an entire world that works as both an introduction to silent film and as homage to the glory days of the genre. Suffices to say that Hazanavicius' use of the silent film genre will please both general audiences and film buffs. It really is amazing how well Hazanavicius (who also wrote the script) pulled of the silent film aspects of this film. This is a genre that hasn't been used in decades and the film industry has changed greatly since that era. Yet The Artist makes you recall the best of that era.
Hazanavicius' script does include some great moments but this is definitely a directorial achievement. The script could have been a lot better as it appears to be your average romantic comedy (although funnier than the average film from that genre at this present age) with a fun twist to how the story is told. The script is also the major problem with the third act. The film is at its best when it is having fun. Yet Hazanavicius tries to bring the film into a darker arena in the third act. When this happens it becomes all too obvious that script is just a little to average. The characters don't seem as interesting anymore and the story begins to slow down a little too much. Luckily, Hazanavicius' has a nice ending in store that brings everything back together to form a neat conclusion that is perfect for the film. It doesn't match the fun and uniqueness of the first half of the film, but it stops the film from becoming a disappointment.
Another asset this film has is its cast. The casting department made a smart move by combining French actors with American actors. It kind of puts another nice touch to the idea of this being a unique film. It is so weird to see John Goodman interacting with Jean Dujardin (who can't speak English), but it works. Speaking of Dujardin, he is at his best when (like the film) he is having fun. Luckily the film gives him plenty of opportunities to do so. Dujardin is able to masterfully make himself seem like the most charismatic man in the world by just using body language. Goodman also does some solid work as a studio head and is clearly having his most fun since his Walter Sobchak days. Like Dujardin, Goodman is phenomenal at (as one character in the film calls it) "mugging it up for the camera". The last role of note belongs to Berenice Bejo as Dujardin's love interest. She isn't as good at "mugging" as the other two, but she performs her role well enough to create some enthusiasm from the audience for the character.
The final asset this film has is its many technical achievements. It features some interesting costume choices (that work most of the time). It handles the use of sound so well that when it is used, it results in some of the best scenes in the film. The film also features one of the best scores in a while (courtesy of Ludovic Bource) as it works wonderfully as both an original score and as an ode to the silent film scores of old.
The Artist may feature a cliched script and may be just about the gimmick, but it is unlike anything you will see this year.
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