Screening Room – THE ARTIST

 

(KTSF by Sean Au)

When cinema began to provide entertainment for the masses in the early twentieth century, it was in the form of moving pictures in black and white, mostly silent, and at times accompanied by music. With the advent of sound in the 1930s, silent movies died a slow death over the next few decades. Trust the French to revive the magic of silent movies of yesteryears in the critically acclaimed THE ARTIST.

It was Hollywood in 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a huge star in the movies is met with applause from yet another successful premiere. One of his huge fans Peppy (Berenice Bejo), accidentally bumps into him in what might have been a movie cliche’. The meeting prompts Peppy to try her luck at the studios, auditioning as an extra in the movies. This leads to bigger roles.

At the same time,  George’s fortune begins to fade, and his unhappy wife leaves him. Only his dog and driver remain.  It would seem that the lights had dimmed on George in a world where actors speak. Will the chance meeting between Peppy and George rise to the occasion in the face of these challenges

French director Michel Hazanavicius has 2 comedies under his belt.  In 2011, when movies are often either dialogue driven or extremely loud, the move to make a silent movie is an extremely bold one. Every single frame is meticulously filmed, its stark photography paying homage to the years when cinema began to enchant.

The two French leads break the language barrier, relying on a multitude of facial expressions that the camera lens simply adores. Throw in some complicated dance movies, and it would be hard for the audience not to fall in love with these two fresh faces of the international cinema. Jean Dujardin, deservingly won the Best Actor honor in this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Without giving too much away to the story, at the core of the movie is a love affair. While it may be one that is often heart-wrenching and hints at a happy ending, there is no doubt that you will walk away feeling in love with cinema again, and that makes THE ARTIST a gem of a movie.

How about this.  Let’s just call it a masterpiece.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Video courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

(Copyright 2011 KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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