I was wrong. I had thought that “The Artist” would be just a tribute, a homage to the silent movie era for the sake of nostalgia, a dumbing down of a movie-making only to achieve a pretentious idea of “hey, let’s make silent movie cool again.” A third down the way, I was proven wrong. At its heart, “The Artist” is still telling a story and it’s a heartbreaking one at that, too. It’s not the question of whether you’re going to like/hate this movie because of the way it was presented but rather whether you’re going to like/hate this movie because of its story and the ones who tells it. For me, personally, I really like it although I could make do with few shorter scenes.
This is not the first time I’ve seen a movie about the struggle of a silent actor to stay relevant when the industry introduces dialogs (or the talkies as history would have it). Now, at this point the aesthetic choice of this movie is becoming clear. There’s little or even perhaps no better way to tell the story about a struggling silent actor to stay relevant in an industry that has moved on than going for the silent treatment. And the treatment works very well too, not just a gimmick but also helped to establish the emotional struggle that “The Artist” himself experienced.
Jean Dujardin as “The Artist” was really at home in this movie. I’m not really sure how to put it into words, but his persona is clearly fitting for an actor of olden days and once you see him in action, it is easy to see why he lands the role, and how he nails it every single time. But I’m actually more inclined to fall in love with Berenice Bejo as this movie’s leading lady. As I’ve said before, I was wrong with my predicament of this movie. And the reason I was wrong is solely because of how effective Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo as the leading couple of this movie. I was swept away with their story, their, well, arguably over-the-top romance. However, I can’t help myself but falling in love more with Berenice Bejo. Her nuanced sincerity is easily seen and without the hint of a haughtiness I had often had to suffer when dealing with a lovely leading lady in a movie. I honestly think that hers is one of the best performance by an actress from the year 2011, and definitely my first favorite.
And then there’s the theme of pride and a struggle to stay relevant. A theme I could very much relate to and one that make this movie, for me, is a much more enjoyable one. Probably more than most.
I have seen only three silent movie in my lifetime and even if this movie is technically a silent movie (for most of its duration anyway), I would not put this movie into the same pedestal (or category). In every way, this is a modern movie with a silent treatment used as no more than just a means to deliver an end rather than an end in itself. And also, with a bit of history cinema weighing in (the transition from silent movies to talkies happened around the years spanned in this movie), this movie is a must see to any self-proclaimed movie buff. The result, however, may and will vary.
Oh, and because I really love tap dance, I had this huge smile on my face at the end of the movie.