Most helpful critical review
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2012
Silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardain) is on top of the Hollywoodland world until a random encounter with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) foreshadows the ascendancy of talkies, the gradual death of silent films, and Valentin's plummeting career. The film's Valentin-centric portrayal is interesting because it's represents the desperate, somewhat stubborn manner in which Valentin fights inevitability. Although, the end of the film alludes to why he may not have had a choice.
While "The Artist" was interesting, neither the homage nor the plot was original (which isn't to say they weren't appreciated). The former was accomplished by Mel Brooks and the latter in roughly every other movie made. It is compelling enough, however, that I didn't look away. Perhaps that is part of the charm? A viewer must fully invest in a silent film. This holds particularly true in this case, because any skeptical viewer (like me) wants to unearth the reasons why so many awards were won. I was compelled to comprehend why the movie was so rewarded. I thought the film was decent, but certainly not deserving. Michael Bay is proof that technology doesn't create a better movie. I'd rather watch a "The General" with Buster Keaton than Transformers 2. Having said that, however, there is a reason why silent films were overrun by talkies and why I scream at my family members when we play charades. Pantomiming doesn't convey the full expression, intent, or emotion.
What the film lacks in sound and color the two leads mostly compensate. Dujardain is mesmerizing as he hams it up, over-accentuating every facial movement, every smile, laugh, grimace. Bejo is almost equally adept, but she more than makes up for it in pure beauty. Both stars look the part, and if there were one award this film deserved it would be Best Supporting Actor for Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier co-star. One scene with Uggie and Dujardain at a dinner table is absolutely priceless, in any generation, with or without sound. Impeccable timing.
Ultimately, Directory Michel Hazanavicius leaves viewers with nostalgia and respect for a bygone era. Like his title character, Hazanavicius wishes to save, or at least respect, silent films of the past. Eulogies are intended to aid listeners' - in this case, viewers' - memories. To reacquaint the senses with what was once enjoyable. To appreciate the innocence and the story-telling missing from many contemporary films with all the "advantages."