Movie Review: The Artist

The 2012 French romantic drama film "The Artist" is a silent film shot entirely in black-and-white. The events are narrated through occasional lines of dialogues printed on inter title cards. The period and setting makes it obvious that the story is set in the early 1930s at the cusp when talkie films became the norm and silent movies were gradually fading out. 

The Artist begins with a premiere of silent movie superstar George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who is screening his latest film to a rapturous audience. He is in every frame like an actual silent movie actor. Following the premiere, he is clicked with Peppy Miller, who wins  a small role in his next film. George is proud of his fame and tries to get the maximum attention when on stage, leaving behind his co-stars. He helps Peppy Miller (Benerice Bejo), a young lady to enter stardom and on the run, scripts his own downfall with her rise. Sound comes to Hollywood and the industry is transformed and Peppy Miller becomes an overnight star as the audiences cannot seem to get enough of her raspy voice (which, unfortunately, is never heard through the film) and star power soars. 

Meanwhile, George continues to write and direct silent films. The film at this stage provide us with two striking metaphors. First, George meets Peppy on a staircase from where the camera frames three floors, capturing her going up as he's going down and second where his jungle adventure tale called "Tears of Love" ends with him sinking into quicksands. 

The lead actors are witty and affecting and are equally good in support. The film is well executed and the filmmaker explores most of the conventions of silent cinema. The film is a perfect blend of comedy, drama and romance. The writing is splendid and the direction is above average. It is a complete silent movie which goes beyond paying homage to the silent era of Hollywood, but is a dazzling tale of love and loss. Summing up, the film has nearly everything that a viewer looks for in a movie: innocence and weightage to acting. The Artist is one of the finest and the most heart-warming love stories of 2012. 


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