Rating: 7 out of 10
It’s a shame this movie is getting hyped up beyond belief because it’s a fairly standard romantic comedy that has an interesting gimmick. If you haven’t heard by now, “The Artist” is an almost 100% silent film. There’s a couple scenes where we hear the actors but it’s very brief. About 95% is just the film score, beautiful black and white cinematography, and title cards. The actors are forced to trump up their emotions because of the lack of audio just like in the old days. Every single one of them does a terrific job, particularly Jean Dujardin as George Valetin. He’s really the only character that is forced to go through any metamorphosis through the story. All of the other principal characters are the same from beginning to end. But, Dujardin must act out the heights of fame and his fall from grace without uttering a word. I give him a great deal of credit for pulling it off. In the old days, this was a standard practice and hardly a novelty. But, to do it over 80 years after the Jazz Singer graced cinemas and ushered in the era of talking pictures is a great feat and I won’t take that away from “The Artist.” Another positive is the note perfect film score that runs the entire duration of the movie by Ludovic Bource. The music is joyous, sad, romantic, and beautiful. I’d be shocked if it didn’t win an Academy Award because of the dependence a silent film has on its score to tell the story and set the mood.
On the negative side there’s one element that can’t be ignored: story. This is really basic stuff here. An actor has it all, loses it all, falls in love, and gets it back. I’ve seen the rise and fall story so many times that it’s not lost on me how unoriginal it is just because it’s wrapped in a fuzzy nostalgic package. I have no doubt this will win best picture at the Academy Awards simply because it’s an homage to the very institution that is casting the ballots. I don’t want anyone who’s reading this to think I didn’t enjoy the film because I did. I just want to temper your expectations. It’s not even close to the best picture this year (My pick is Moneyball). But, it is a charming film and when it ends, most people will have a smile on their face.