Silence is golden
With its silent approach, black and white aesthetic and reduced aspect ratio, The Artist is a beautiful celebration of cinema’s golden era. Steeped in sentiment, the film’s musical accompaniment harks back to the early cinematic experience as well as expertly anchoring fantastic performances and an astutely self referential narrative. While the meaning behind each scene is explained by title cards, in keeping with the genre, the director and actors revive a higher calibre of acting which faded after the arrival of the talkies and is mostly lost to contemporary cinema. This is a film that doesn’t require dialogue; characters’ thoughts and emotions are shown purely through facial expressions and physical action.
Jean Dujardin’s lead performance as George Valentin is fantastic and comfortably befitting of an Academy Award nomination. With his trusty companion at his side, Uggie the dog, whose charm and acting ability is sure to warm hearts and eclipse Lassie, he shifts from glee to despair as he struggles to adapt to the rapidly evolving industry.
Also appearing alongside Dujardin is little known actress, and wife of director Michel Hazanavicius, Bérénice Bejo. Though magnificent, she suffers from Oscars politics. The producers choose the categories for which they are nominated, and with everyone presuming that Meryl Streep has the best actress already won, she has been relegated to a supporting role. Frankly, she deserves more. As alluring as she is charismatic, Peppy Miller provides the film’s finest moments and certainly the most comical.
This beautifully intelligent exploration into cinema’s history is sure to reward French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius and his assembled cast with acclaim during the awards season.