The Artist

(2011)

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Review: The Artist

Transcript for Review: The Artist

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:

Well, believe it or not, we actually have another movie about silent film on the show this week, though this one isn’t in 3D. As a matter of fact, it’s not even in color or widescreen. THE ARTIST tells a little story about silent movies using the style of a silent movie. Now, the idea of making a full-on silent film in 2011 might sound like it’d end up either intolerably cutesy or really dry and academic—but THE ARTIST mostly stays clear of that, thanks to a deft lead performance by French comedian Jean Dujardin.

Dujardin is a gifted physical actor with a smile that’s about a foot wide – and it helps that he actually looks like an Old Hollywood matinee idol. Here he plays George Valentin, the star of a popular series of swashbuckling adventure movies. But it’s the late 1920s, and a new fad called sound is about to derail his career.

As George declines, another star rises: Peppy Miller, a comedy actress whose first role was a bit part in one of George’s movies. There’s something a tad disingenuous and over-simplified about this film, but it’s so light and airy by design that it’s difficult to hold these things against it for too long. Ultimately, it’s a thumbs up from me.

CHRISTY:

Thumbs up from me, too. I appreciate just the meticulous eye for detail. I mean everything from the opening credits in the beautiful art deco like it’s meticulous as far as being a very loving and faithful homage to this type of film

IGNATIY:

But I’d say that it’s—it’s faithful to a certain degree, but actually, and I hate to bring up Hugo again, but I feel like these movies are very…

CHRISTY:

They do go hand in hand.

IGNATIY:

Yeah, they do go hand in hand. I feel like Hugo, which is a movie in 3D, and color and widescreen—color grated, completely modern. It captures the spirit of the silent era better than this does. I feel like this—this film it perfectly replicates the style, but it doesn’t—it just doesn’t have the energy.

CHRISTY:

You were going to say what I was just about to say, which is it gets all the details right, but it lacks the soul, right? It’s not quite there as a satisfying experience, and the novelty of it wears off rather quickly. Once you get past the idea that okay this is a very loving homage, it kind of drags for a long chunk in the middle there, and then it gets very zingy and very funny at the absolute end with this big splashy production number.

IGNATIY:

But I think what carries it through is Dujardin’s performance. I think the fact that he looks like an actor like—like, you know, kind of an adventure actor of that period like Douglas Fairbanks or something…

CHRISTY:

Right.

IGNATIY:

Um, and he is—his character does sort of resemble—he makes Douglas Fairbanks like movies. I think his performance carries it through even when the movie kind of loses momentum.

CHRISTY:

He’s a very, very gifted physical comedian. Okay.