Jan 21, 2012

The Artist[2011/2012]

Wednesday night, with an Orange code in hand, I went to see The Artist! It tells the story of silent movie star George Valentin, who wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion; meanwhile Peppy Miller, a young dancer, starts her journey in Hollywood, gaining new friends and fans on the way.

Whilst watching the film and, especially at the end, I kept getting back to an idea, to a feeling that it gave me. 

I couldn't shake off the feeling that this movie was a metaphor for Hollywood- let me explain. George Valentin, the famous silent movie actor, can be compared to any A lister in modern times: talented, with a bucket full of charm, attractive, loved and envied by everyone. For some years, he is the star of the game, the man of the moment; people can't get enough of him. But when the rules of the game change, or better say, evolve, there is time for new talent to emerge and, slowly, the A lister is no longer considered the hot commodity of the town, and that's the natural rhythm of things-- it's an ongoing cycle. Peppy Miller represents the upcoming artists, the youngsters who may not have the talent of people like Valentin, but they sure do have the charm. And so, George loses steam, Miller rises from the ashes, and therefore, a new star is born.

Valentin does not go down without a fight- he directs his own movie, in hope that it will be a hit and people might still like silent movies, in the meantime losing all his money, passion and ambition (does this situation ring a bell to anyone?). He surrenders to failure and has a meltdown, all ending with a big fire- because you already know Americans are so dramatic and overreacting- they were back then and they still are even now. As all Hollywood movies and, sometimes, real life situations, there is always a happy ending, with the obligatory nice girl and sweet moment of "Oh, I never stopped loving you, I am here to save you exactly before you do something stupid". They quickly make up, move on and start living a great life together on and off-screen.

Although some might say it is an ode to silent movies, I say it is more than that- it is an ode, sometimes parody, to Hollywood, to its system, to its scripts, its charm and attractiveness. It's a story we've seen many times before, with different characters, different actors, in all periods of time, showing the natural order of things- we rise, we succeed, we fall and suffer, but we eventually get up and move on. And while this happens everywhere around the world, Hollywood will always have an upper hand in transforming this type of story in a full-out romance or drama, because that what it does: it creates characters, magnifies the story and makes it more approachable, yet still more attractive and appealing to the mass than your usual drama on the street. The happy ending doesn't always come in real life, but in movies, in Hollywood, everything is fine at the end- hopeless optimistic, these Americans (and I personally love it)! I don't know if you understood what I meant when I said it was a metaphor, it seemed clearer to me when I got out of the cinema theater, but I just couldn't write this review until now, the words just didn't come out.

Coming back to the movie, the great thing about The Artist is the fact that it managed to portray Hollywood, to portray life, in a very simple, yet extremely effective, entertaining, charming way. The lack of dialogue wasn't an issue, as the sets, the costumes, the music and the acting were more than enough to please the audience. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo light up the screen and make you fall in love with them at the first sight, giving fantastic performances all the way through.

The Artist ticks all of boxes, but still, it's not enough, maybe because it does not have the shock factor- it is not memorable. It's something we've seen times and times before, but translated in the 20s, with a more musical aspect to it.

Bottom line, I will tell you what I keep saying to my friends when they ask how the movie was: "Sweet, entertaining, charming, but not mind-blowing. You should see it, it's fun!"


  1. I saw this film just lasy night. It sounds like I liked it more than you did.

    One thing - can I suggest you place a Spoiler Warning in your post before you describe the end of the film? Had I not seen the movie, it would have spoiled the suspense for me.

  2. My absolute favorite movie of the year, it's most magical and charming film I've seen since "Amelie" and that dog should get special Oscar or something.

  3. Sooooo looking forward to this one! Only a few weeks to go now. Eeeee!

    Great write up! I like the way you reasoned the Hollywood metaphor.

  4. @Chip: Thank you for the suggestion, you are completely right, I don't know what I was thinking. As for the movie, I like it, too!
    @Sati: That dog was something, wasn't he? :)
    @Ruth: Thanks Ruth, hope you will like it, as well, when you'll see it!

  5. This a very well-made flick that will definitely entertain anybody who watches it but to be honest, this is nothing too entirely special enough to win Best Picture. It's good just not the life-changing flick that I thought I was going to get. Good review Aziza.

  6. I totally agree Dan! Thanks for dropping by!

  7. Nothing really groundbreaking but I found this movie so charming and enjoyable. I really connected with Jean Dujardin's character and performance, which is the main reason I'm in love with this movie.

  8. I'm glad you liked this one so much. I still want to see it and am waiting for my local theaters to get it.

  9. @Castor:Yes, a very enjoyable movie, I liked it, too, it just didn't moved me!
    @T: Considering it is nominated for an Oscar and it is a very entertaining film, I think you should see it as soon as you can! I think you will like it!

  10. Great review! Yeah I think it can be said that it's an ode to Hollywood and not just the silent era. I'm glad you still enjoyed this Diana, though it didn't wow you as much as it did me. I do think aside from being entertaining, charming and all that, it actually has a lot of heart, so it's not just 'style over substance.' I'm rooting for this to win Best Picture.

  11. @Ruth: No, I agree, it does have heart, it just....you know...didn't make it for me! I'm glad you liked it!