The Artist–Movie Review

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5 Stars

The Artist is not a movie for everyone. Many people are going to stop reading as soon as they realize that this is a silent movie. And yes, if you think that silent movies are just defective versions of modern movies then you might as well stop reading now.

On the other hand if you recognize that silent movies are (or were) a distinct art form in their own right, then this is worth your time. It is really, really well done. It must have taken Michel Hazanavicius a great deal of effort to master the techniques of this almost-forgotten art form, but he has succeeded and the result can stand up with the best of them. (Mel Brooks tried something similar in 1976, but that was just a parody. This is on a much higher level.)

The suitably melodramatic story introduces us to George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a phenomenally successful silent movie star in the late 1920s. One day he gives some much-needed encouragement to Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) an ambitious young actress. He helps her get a walk-on role in one of his films. Starting from that she works her way up to stardom. When the talkies arrive she makes the transition with spectacular success

George on the other hand fails to make the transition. He ends up financially ruined, abandoned by his wife and friends, abandoned indeed by everyone except for his faithful dog (Uggie). But two people have not forgotten him: his former chauffeur (James Cromwell) and Peppy Miller.

Of course this is only playing in a few art houses, but if you are at all interested in this sort of thing it is worth checking out.