Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Best Picture: "The Artist," 2011

Movie Stats:
Released 2011 (France)
French, Belgian & American, in English (the film is actually almost completely silent but all of the scene cards are in English & if you feel like lip reading, it's pretty obvious that they're speaking in English)
Director - Michel Hazanavicius
Stars - Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, Uggie

Plot Summary:
When silent movie star George Valentin (Dujardin) meets young ingenue Peppy Miller (Bejo), sparks fly. However, the arrival of talkies sends their careers, and lives, in opposite directions. Uggie co-stars as The Dog, George’s faithful companion.

One obscene gesture; if you’re especially good at lip reading, you might catch a few naughty words, as I did; some really minor, unrealistic violence.

Bad Stuff:
My only quibble is that this is one of those “light bit of confection” movies. While typically enjoyable to watch, I expect my Oscar winners to be at least a smidgeon deeper.

Good Stuff:
I really liked that the woman got to be the hero for once.

Pretty much everything is awesome: the costumes, the soundtrack, the sets, the dancing, and the sound editing. This is literally the first time in my life that I’ve ever said the words “the sound editing was awesome.”

The leads had great chemistry with each other. I also loved the relationship between George and his loyal butler Clifton (James Cromwell).

The Verdict:
First, I have to say that I had a good laugh toward the beginning of the film when George tried to get back in the good graces of his wife Doris (Penelope Ann Miller) by being cute with The Dog (who is a Jack Russell terrier). My husband does the same thing when I get annoyed with him, and our dog happens to be part Jack Russell. Unfortunately, they don’t do cute tricks together. My husband just holds up the dog in front of his face and says “Please don’t be mad!”

As to the film, it’s a lovely little homage to the early Golden Age of Hollywood. The only word that seems applicable to this kind of movie is “delightful.” There is some amount of deeper meaning here, allusions to the idea that time marches on, and that we must march along with it by learning how to accept what’s new and different. (However, I wouldn’t take the story too much to heart; probably best to accept the passage of time more gracefully than George does.) Mostly, though, it stays on the surface. That’s not a bad thing. I simply felt the film could have packed a stronger punch. 

That having been said, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t like it. It’s adorable and sweet and fun. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend most of it smiling and laughing. I give it 4.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I wonder if the delight was part of the homage to old Hollywood? I thought it got fairly dark, what with the suicide attempt and all. Not what I would expect in a silent film.

I'm always on the lookout for films that Aunt Pat will watch. Films she likes are filled with a lot of "no." As in no sex, no violence, no language, no shady characters etc. They are very rare, but this one fit the bill. It's probably the only Oscar winner she's seen in decades.

And I just adored this movie. I liked also the woman got to be the hero.

balyien said...

It definitely gets a little dark, although even the suicide attempt is played for laughs in the end (and I laughed really hard at that scene; it was so cute).

My mom was the same way about movies. She loved all the dorkiest, most G-rated movies a person could find. I think it's because she was a child/teen in the 50s and early 60s. Naughty stuff was still in films then but it was a lot more covert than it is now.