The Undeniable Charm of ‘The Artist’

Reviewed by Magdalen O’Reilly
The world of film can seem a dismal place these days. Endless reboots, remakes, and pandering corporate shlock can be disillusioning. But every once in a long while, perhaps the stars align in just the right way, a film comes along to give us all hope. The Artist debuted in 2011, and is now playing at  Darkside Cinemas. It took home five Oscars at The Academy Awards, but many have reservations about the relevancy or fairness of the Awards. The Artist deserved all five- and more.
I want to say, without hesitation, that The Artist is one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
The story begins with silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) at the height of his popularity. Then the advent of sound threatens to destroy his career and change the face of the film industry forever. We follow George as he deals with his inevitable decline in popularity, and the rise of the new talking starlett, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo).
The Artist features a star studded cast, Macolm McDowell, John Goodman and James Cromwell to name just a few. The film itself features almost no talking for the entire running time. Instead it relies on expression, music and clever visual symbolism to convey the plot. The sound that is used is minimal, but powerful. Someone who is accustomed to modern films may worry that they would struggle to follow along with such a format. Luckily The Artist is so amazingly crafted that this fact becomes completely irrelevant. I don’t think I can aptly express in words how much I loved this film. But let me try: although it strokes my ego greatly that you’ve taken time out of your day to read this review, this is time you could be using to buy a ticket.
It’s difficult to describe this film without explaining the emotional impact it generates. As someone with a love of classic film, nothing could have prepared me for the undeniable glee the characters and music brought me. George Valentin is suave and lovable, even at his darkest moments. And Peppy Miller manages to convey a sweetness and enthusiasm that screams without saying a word. Within the first 10 minutes, I was grinning like an idiot. My face hurt from smiling. The Artist could have easily come off snobby and pretentious, but it’s charm is undeniable. It is a work of art, the kind that everyone can understand and love. Stop reading, go see it.
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