Director: Michel Hazanavicius
So some of you may remember that I was not a fan of The Artist. Well now I’m back to tell you that after repeated viewings my opinion of it has not changed much. And if it has than I don’t think it’s for the better. Much of Simon Ward’s review in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die I disagree with, most especially “as a loving tribute to the days when actions spoke louder than words, The Artist is charming and irresistible.” (943) I do not think it is charming and irresistible. In fact I find it immensely annoying and overblown. I do however agree with his statement that “[…] it features the best performance by a dog since Toto.” (943) because Uggi is brilliant. He’s such a talented animal and adorable in his doggy behavior. He’s pretty much the only thing I actually enjoy about the film.
Ludovic Bource‘s score is incredible and as I said before it is the driving force behind the narrative. “Dialogue is expressed using intertitles, and Ludovic Bource’s jazzy score guides you through the narrative.” (943) Yes the dialogue is told through inter-titles but not all the dialogue and I’m not a good enough lip reader to follow it all. This just left me feeling frustrated that I was missing out on much of the story.
Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo are incredibly versatile and expressive. The entire cast is. There is a much more physical element o every performance within this ilm. “The actors tap back into the forgotten art of silent movie acting, expressing themselves through their facial expressions and mannerisms.” (943)
I do still feel that both Peppy and George’s stories are cautionary tales about fame. Peppy’s shows that fame cannot buy you happiness while George’s shows that fame and wealth are fleeting and you shouldn’t take anything for granted. And yet for me that still isn’t enough to keep me interested in the film. Berenice Bejo is beautiful and charismatic in her performance as Peppy. She does indeed light up the screen whenever she is on camera. She is probably the most interesting person to watch but sadly not interesting enough to change my mind about the film.
Jean Dujardin as George gives a solid performance and charts the downward slide of a star unwilling to embrace the advent of new technology well enough although I am now sure that the performance was not the best performance by an actor nominated in the 2012 Oscars, especially after having just recently re-watched George Clooney in The Descendants.
The costumes and sets are divine with the effortless glamor that seems so intrinsic to the 1920s era. And yet so much of the detail is lost through the decision to film it in black and white. Yes I know that all films during the silent film era were shot in black and white so it was really the only choice Hazanavicius had but I personally feel it flattens and deadens the image.
I still feel that The Artist doesn’t really have any conviction in itself as a silent film and not just due to the fact that Hazanavicius breaks from the actual format of a silent film and as dialogue in the closing minutes. I also think having the heightened sounds in George’s nightmare is a break from the format of a silent film. I think this is what my problem with The Artist is. if you are going to take a chance and return to making films the way they were being made at the inception of the cinematic medium then at least have enough faith in your vision to keep it true to the art form you are trying to emulate.
I can understand how some people would argue that The Artist is a return to a purer form of filmmaking but I disagree and I stand by my previous statement that there was obviously a reason why silent films have not endured the same way as ‘talkies’ have. And I am now decided that it will take a huge amount to get me to watch this film again. Twice is enough for me.