The Artist (2011) – Michel Hazanavicius

The multi-Oscar winning film, The Artist is the next film in the What Else to Watch list as I continue my journey through DK Canada’s The Movie Book. Coming in as a recommendation for Chaplin’s City Lights, this film definitely entertains.

Taking home Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Director, Best Costume, Best Original Score (Ludavic Bource), it was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Bernice Bejo) and Best Original Screenplay (Hazanavicius) the story proves that a film image can move us as much as the dialogue.

This modern day silent film follows George Valentin (Dujardin) a film star at the top of his game. He has success after success, even as he is losing his wife, Doris (Penelope Ann Miller). Accompanied by his terrier Jack everywhere, both onscreen and off, George bumps into a young dancer, Peppy Miller (Bejo) who has big dreams of working in film.

Trouble arrives for Valentin with the advent of talkies. He sees himself as an artist and talkies are just a fad that will pass. As his success flounders, Peppy’s star begins to rise, becoming America’s new sweetheart as her talkies take off.

By turns dramatic, and incredibly funny (the dream sequence was a fun surprise, and the climax is picture perfect) the film is brilliant, and even now, having seen it, it feels like a companion piece to Singin’ in the Rain (my all time favourite musical) and the plot shares a number of similarities.

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The cast is top-drawer, including James Cromwell, John Goodman, Ed Lauter, Malcolm McDowell and Missi Pyle and I can’t rave enough about the beautiful score by Bource. The film comes to life magically, bringing the silent era of films back to the big screen and doing it in style.

Dujardin brings so much charm to his role, emoting perfectly, his pencil thin moustache as symbolic of the era as the story is, he carries himself like a Fairbanks, and with Jack the Terrier at his heels, it conjures iconic image after iconic image. He owns the screen, filling it with his presence, and he and Bejo make a wonderful pairing.

The film comes across as a beautiful labour of love, evoking a time long gone and bringing it back to life with style, grace and humour (there are so many brilliant little moments throughout that to pick one would be an injustice to the rest). It’s a joyous experience that leaps off the screen and completely captivates.

A masterful celebration of film, storytelling, and the magic of movies, The Artist is cinematic gold, and a pleasure to watch.

But don’t take my word for it, check out DK Canada’s The Movie Book, and watch this and countless other brilliant films!

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