This is a rather late review, but they screened the Artist at Union South yesterday and I had a chance to finally see the film on the big screen. I was blown away by the acting of Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Even though the plot was commonplace and did not hold any surprises, the acting of the lead pair elevated the movie to a whole another level. It was also refreshing to see a movie without dialogues, where there is more of a burden on the actors to bring out what they feel in their faces and their body language. I felt that all the actors in the film excelled at this.
There were a few scenes which I found to be particularly well done. If you don’t want to know the plot, stop reading, because there are a few spoilers. First off is the scene where George finds out about talkies and has a nightmare that the world has moved on to an age where films talk, whereas he is left without a voice. The nightmare where he is unable to make a sound whereas everything around him does, and where a feather falling sounds like thunder. His agony and frustration were brought out excellently, all without any dialouges!
The second beautiful scene was when George meets Peppy on the stairs after she signs with the production studio. There were a number of things brought out in the scene – George descends while Peppy ascends the staircase, signifying their respective fortunes in the film world; While George and Peppy are talking, people keep moving past them on the staircase, signifying how time has stopped for the two, while it flows past for the people around them. And finally, George asks Peppy about the two guys who came with her. She replies in a sprightly tone, “Toys!”.
Later on, when George is all washed up and forced to sell his souvenirs, Peppy secretly buys all of them. From inside her car, she watches as George walks off despondently. He walks past a theater, which is playing a movie called, “The Lonely Star”. It is through the use of brilliantly placed background touches that the director manages to convey a lot without resorting to dialogues.
There are a lot of such good scenes in the movie, too many to list here. But the climax was too good to leave out. George, driven to desperation by his situation, decides to commit suicide. Peppy arrives just in time to see him with the gun in his hand. She starts crying saying that she only wanted to help him. The situation is tense, sad and awkward. George shoots the gun by mistake and hits a vase. His dog (which is another big star of the film) immediately plays dead. And it is in this scene, when Peppy does not know whether to cry or to laugh, and the way she weakly smiles though her tears, and George’s reaction, that forms the pinnacle for the film. Brilliant acting. If you are a fan of fine acting, do watch this movie.