13 August 2012

Film: The Artist (2011)

Thoughts: Well this is strange. I do believe I have encountered the first silent film that I didn't like. The Artist really just bored me. I felt the characters weren't fully drawn, and that the love-letter nature of the film was far too ham-fisted in it's approach. I was about to write that there were some good bits but, frankly, it's all just fallen out of my head. I'd say that convey all you really need to know.

Actor George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the top of Hollywood. But a chance encounter with up-and-coming extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bajo) is about to change all of that. The serendipitous "collision" of their two personalities will send her rocketing up the ladder of super-stardom, and him flat strap the opposite direction, with the crux of the issue lying in the advent of "talkies". Lives are changed, fortunes are lost, tears roll, and so on and so forth.

It all just rang false for me. I've seen my fair share of silent films, and in fact, I'd say my favourite kind of films are silent films. Sunrise, City Lights, The General, Dr. Mabuse; easily some of my favourites, and some of the most memorable to me. But The Artist just let me down, really. Sure, Jean Dujardin gives it his all, but frankly, it's like working with just a few ingredients for a four course meal. You can only go so far with so little. There aren't even any stand-out scenes. As awesome as Uggie the dog is, he isn't even given much to do.
And yet, the film gets lavished with praise and heaped with awards. Am I in the wrong? I don't know. I've purchased it on good faith, so perhaps a viewing in the future will change my opinion. But for now, I remain disheartened and unconvinced. The overly-sentimental nature of the flick- aimed squarely at lovers of classic cinema- left me wondering if they had branched out a bit, been a bit more adventurous, perhaps they had made a more compelling film. But for now, it's a candy-coated reminder of days gone by.


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