Opening 26 Jan 2012
Writing credits: Michel Hazanavicius
Principal actors: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Direction and Script: Michel Hazanavicius, with: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Uggy the dog
The Artist is an unusual cinematic homage to silent movies: silent and in black & white! The year is 1927. George Valentin (Dujardin), charming self-confident darling of Hollywood, will soon lose his stardom and career. A new technology – synchronizing sound with film – revolutionizes the movie industry. His talent to convey emotions and meaning by dramatic facial expressions – once highly regarded – is no longer appreciated. He won’t acknowledge that there is no future in silent movies; then he doesn’t know how “to do voice”. In an artistically brilliant scene he hears sounds – and so does the audience – but like in a nightmare he can’t utter a word. Famed silent movie star Rudolph Valentino was spared a fall from grace; he died suddenly in 1926. ‘Our’ George Valentin has to face this humiliation. Meanwhile Peppy Miller’s (Bejo) star is rising with the “talkies”. George had recently discovered the young actress and made a few films with her. Now – their roles and fortunes reversed – she needs to help him.
The storyline is fairly thin, but it’s impossible not to enjoy this film, with upbeat music and attractive leads that includes the adorable terrier Uggy – proud winner of the “Palm Dog Award Cannes 2011”. We might reflect on the role sound plays in film, marvel how wonderfully Jean Dujardin communicates with his gaze and facial expression alone…and wonder why some artists choose to Botox this ability away. (Carola A)