Hollywood, 1927: Silent movie star George Valentin is famous and wanted by his fans. He meets Peppy Miller, a young dancer, and propels her to the top of the movie industry. But as the sound enters the Hollywood, will George Valentin stand up to the challenge or surrender?
I will definitely remember the year 2011 as the year of extreme nostalgia about the old movies. It seems to me that suddenly that feeling overwhelmed all the major producers, and as the result we saw so many films heralding how good the times were. The suit was started with Drive, the movie that initiates a time travel into 1980s movie production with all the main attributes in place: pounding soundtrack, violence and L.A. Then there was Hugo, in which Martin Scorsese took us back to the very beginning of the film production and has shown the fate of one of the pioneers of the industry, Georges Méliès. This time, the nostalgic Michel Hazanavicius take us to 1927, the era of silent black-and-white movies and booming movie industry.
The Artist is very different from the other two films mentioned. If the Drive hails the style of 80s and Hugo is the ode to the brave pioneers of the movie industry, the Artist talks mainly about the people involved. It asserts strongly that the actors during the 1920s were shining, glossy, glamorous in their own, down-to-earth style, and builds the entire storyline around it, not trying to capture the viewers’ attention by anything else.
This was a very risky experiment. The movie is black-and-white and silent in the era of 3D, Avatar and Transformers. But the Hazanavicius’ bet on the charismatic characters paid off – the movie is very lively and charismatic. The simple story about George Valentin who tries to find his place in the rapidly changing world is very touching; the simple jokes easily make you smile. The fact that the movie concentrates on the new technology allowed some amazing plot turns – I promise that the George’s nightmare will catch you by surprise.
The movie is charming and light in a way that only old movies can be, without being too worried about special effects or the drama in the plot. The authors concentrated on one thing only: that is, to make people empathise with the main characters again, and they succeed – the main characters are charismatic and lovable.
Of course, this would not have happened without the right cast, and it is difficult to underestimate the work of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. It feels as if they came straight from late 20s, they look so natural and confident. It is difficult not to smile when seeing Ms. Bejo’s smile or watching Mr. Dujardin’s dances. They performed to their best, and it is this brilliant performance that guaranteed the charisma and irresistible charm of the movie. Absolutely gorgeous actors literally filling the room with optimistic and upbeat mood, despite all the hardship – they make this film what it is.
VERDICT: The risky experiment in the era of 3D and IMAX, but the most charming film of the year.
TO WATCH: if you don’t want to miss the most festive movie of the year.