Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Artist

Credit: The Weinstein Company

As of late, this blog has been a lot more focused on the small screen than the big screen. That's probably not going to change any time soon, but I thought it would be nice to write a post that fits into the movies portion of the blog. I finally saw The Artist on Monday; as it is not only a movie but also this year's Best Picture winner, I thought a review of it would be a suitable topic.

Most of you are probably aware that the The Artist is a black-and-white silent movie. Those of you who've only seen the trailers may not be aware of the film's plot. Going into the movie my knowledge of The Artist didn't go much farther than that it is a black-and-white silent movie with a largely-French cast and Uggie. For those of you who's knowledge falls somewhere along those lines, I'll start with a brief synopsis.

The Artist begins with a focus on George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent movie star in the 1920s who becomes enchanted with aspiring actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). When "talkies" or talking pictures start to replace silent movies, George feels out of place in the new era of cinema, but Peppy's career takes flight.

When I think of The Artist, the first word that comes to mind is charming. From the bouncy music to the adorable dog, the film brings charm in spades. It's the kind of movie that made me want to smile as I watched it. Without this charm, I don't think the The Artist would have worked well at all; although I was surprised at how much of a story The Artist was able to convey, it was still a film with a good deal of fluff. With this charm, however, it was quite enjoyable.

One of the biggest sources of this charm was the cast. While there were a few familiar faces in the cast (John Goodman and Missi Pyle, for example), most of the cast, including the leads, were relatively unknown actors, at least in the United States. This was a wise choice because recognizable leads, even likable ones, would have taken away from the nostalgic feel of the movie. Additionally, Dujardin and Bejo were perfectly cast, and it's hard to image anyone else doing a better job in their roles. Dujardin is dashing as George and Bejo is utterly endearing as Peppy.

As great Dujardin and Bejo are in The Artist, the true breakout star of the film is Uggie. Uggie plays the role of George's faithful canine companion. He's absolutely adorable, and his scenes are the ones that brought the most laughs. I'm not the only one who's been enchanted by Uggie. There was even a tongue-in-cheek campaign to "Consider Uggie" for an Oscar.

Although I found the movie charming, there were a few times during The Artist that my mind began to wander. The lack of voices was a bit jarring, and I have to admit that I'm used to having both audible dialogue and visuals to hold my attention. Additionally, there were a couple of small moments near the end of the movie where I felt it began to drag slightly. Still, for the majority of the film I was entertained.

The Artist is a fun, fluffy film that stands out due to its presentation and charm. If you're willing to watch a black-and-white silent film, I'd recommend giving it a shot. If nothing else, you'll probably come out with a new-found or renewed appreciation of Uggie.

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