HOW, in this age of 3D, can a black and white and silent (at least it is without spoken dialogue) beat the odds? Apparently, Michel Hazanavicius’s romantic comedy drama, The Artist, has already done that receiving more than 200 accolades and winning the heart of millions of cinephiles from around the globe.
The critically acclaimed film opened the 17th edition of the French Film Festival in Manila receiving nothing but thunderous applauses from the audience. But what is more impressive was the audience’s varied and at the same time similar reactions while in trance watching the silent movie.
Hazanavicius starts the story by giving the audience a glimpse on how silent movies are shown in the late 1920’s—complete with musical accompaniment of a full orchestra. Then here comes the introduction of the film’s main character, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a man whose gestures and facial expressions fairly define a superstar of his time.
George is a hotshot silent film actor until Hollywood decided that the older silent stars are passé and stopped featuring them in the “future” of motion pictures—The Talkies (dubbed as the era of talking actors and the demise of silent films).
George, as a character, can stand without the help of any support cast, but his female counterpart needs equal credit as she adds more charm in the film. Peppy Miller, played by another French star Berenice Bejo, is essayed seamlessly amid Dujardin’s extremely overpowering presence.
Before real love blossoms between George and Peppy, the latter becomes the first’s accidental nemesis. Peppy rises as the new face of The Talkies and crashes the performance of George’s last silent film at the tills. And that almost spells the end of the main man’s Hollywood stint.
Constantly on the lookout, Peppy helps George recover from the depression brought about by the domino effect of losing his fame and fortune. Ultimately the leading lady becomes influential in reviving George’s career.
Everything about The Artist is very simple, including the love angle. Hence, unlike other films of this generation, The Artist’s dramatic core is very thin, the audience will just feel the pinch at the latter part of the story.
A fascinating fact, The Artist does not have an incredible and mind boggling twist or a sophisticated plot, but its simplicity is able to capture the very basic human emotions that make it an unusually interesting film. It’s being a silent movie allows the audience to appreciate how great acting can firmly hold together a 100-minute cinematic work. It makes the audience smile, laugh, frown, fidget, or cry at times with the characters. Hence the audience sit through it until the closing credits appeared.