Saturday, February 4, 2012
The Artist - I applaud it, but how will it be remembered?
Comedy, Romance, Drama, 100 minutes
Directed by Michael Hazanavicius
Starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo and John Goodman
I make an effort to see all of the major Oscar bait, even if it's something that I am not sure I'll like. The Artist falls into that category. I have no problem with black and white or the use of the 1.37:1 aspect ratio, but a silent movie? The idea itself is superb of course. Most moviegoers are too young to remember the silent era, so why not provide a similar experience using modern technology?
Most of the reviews I have read have praised the movie and it's scooping awards at every major show. Is the hype justified?
Well, it was certainly an interesting experience. The audience was very respectful and quieter than for most movies. The movie is silent for the most part, but finds a couple of inventive ways to use both sounds and spoken dialogue. It's easy to follow the rather simple story, and title cards are used when something absolutely has to be communicated to the audience. The acting is very good. Dujardin and Bejo have expressive faces that are up to the task. Dujardin has a lot of charm and seems to portray happiness with ease.
The audience didn't become involved very often. What few laughs there were usually came in response to the antics of Uggie the dog. In fact, that's the problem right there, involvement. The Artist was clever. I applaud the idea and the execution, but I just wasn't emotionally invested with the characters and the outcome. I found myself smiling at the technical feat of showing us 1927 and creating the atmosphere of the silent movie experience, but I didn't care enough about the characters.
Most of my favorite movies are driven by dialogue. I relish watching a Tarantino movie and could listen to the characters talk for hours. When that's removed, for me, so is some of the enjoyment.
I'll remember The Artist as a good idea that captured the imagination of a modern audience, but when you strip it down to what's actually on the screen and examine the strength of the story, something is lacking. I'm glad I saw it, but I won't buy it as I don't need to see it again. When the credits started rolling at the end of The Descendants and Midnight in Paris, I would have been happy to watch them again immediately. The Artist will probably win Best Picture at the Oscars, but I think eventually we'll look back at 2011 and think that it wasn't the best film that year.
For the idea and execution: 5/5
For the strength of story and replay value: 3/5
Return to index of every review on the site.