Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Artist

Every so often a different kind of film comes along, and 'The Artist' is one of those films. In an age of 3D, it is in 2D and in black-and-white. In an age of state-of-the-art sound technology, it is predominantly silent.

The Artist is designed to look and feel very much like a late 1920s silent movie; even the font used on the opening credits takes you back to the golden days of Hollywood's silent period. It comes complete with dialogue frames, and the soundtrack that runs throughout the film is evocative and unobtrusive.

The storyline concerns the fading of a silent-screen icon, George Valentin, at the onset of the 'talkies', and the parallel rise of young starlet Peppy Miller, set alongside their burgeoning relationship and Valentin's descent into financial ruin and contemplation of suicide.

There are some memorable moments for me in the film: a scene in the movie studio where Valentin & Miller meet on a stairway, with her going up, and him down, which sums up their respective careers at that stage; and a dream sequence where Valentin is coming to terms with his imminent demise as the studio invests in talkies and drops its silent stars, and where everything has sound - even a feather falling to the ground - except him, particularly stand out for me.

As well as excellent performances from the main cast - Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman and James Cromwell - the unsung star of the film for me has to be Uggie, who plays Jack, Valentin's dog, and it is good to see that he was awarded the 'Palm Dog' for his performance at Cannes last year.

This film has already been showered with awards, and I have no doubt that it may well be in the running for more as the awards season gets into full swing.