I love movies that really strive to do something much different that most other films, which is why I jumped at the chance to see The Artist when it opened in Cincinnati this past week.
The Artist is a mostly silent film set in the time when silent films were commonplace, the last 1920s. It follows George Valentin (played by the very charming Jean Dujardin), an actor at the top of his game during the time. While promoting and filming a new movie, he bumps into a young aspiring actress, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), and gives her some pointers on making it big. There is a shift in the industry, silent films are giving way to "talkies." George refuses to accept the shift and is forced out of his studio contract. As he struggles to regain his fame and falls into personal turmoil, talkies are taking off with Peppy as the top star. Still feeling a strong connection to George, Peppy works to turn him around and get him on screen again.
The movie has some amazing performances; Jean Dujardin received a well-deserved Golden Globe for his performance, Bérénice Bejo is adorable and charming, and the film also includes John Goodman, one of my personal favorites. The stand-out performance, however, comes from Uggie, a dog, that served as George's voice of reason and his greatest protector. They need to start giving out awards to the animals in some of these films!
The movie's getting a lot of Oscar buzz coming off of a solid performance at the Golden Globes, and is well-worth at least one viewing. Be warned though, aside from score music and a few clever sound effects, the movie is silent. Don't be like those viewers in Liverpool who didn't realize this and tried to get a refund.
Billie Holiday - "Pennies from Heaven"
Bernard Herrmann - Scene d'Amour from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo