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The Artist

April 1, 2012
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I was excited to see this when it first came out, Eve not so much, but when we got to the cinema, all tickets for it had sold out. Then it won a baguette-ful of Oscars and Eve and I both wanted to see it. We finally managed this this week so now I can write the last review on The Artist.

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In the same way that James Cameron showed that lack of plot is no obstacle to making a very pretty film with Avatar, this films snubs colour cinematography and dialogue and still tells a good story. But you knew that already. From start to finish, this is a homage to silent cinema and that shines through every square of celluloid.

It is also the story of one of the last stars of silent cinema, George Valentin, and one of the first stars of the talkies, Peppy Miller, and their intertwining careers and attractions. As George’s star fades, Peppy’s is always on the ascendant. The characters were believable, but a bit simplistic I thought. Whether this was a constraint of silent cinema or because the film focussed so narrow-mindedly on them, I’m not sure.

The score was beautiful and intelligent in equal measures, out of necessity.No Country for Old Men only had 17 minutes of soundtrack in its 2 hour-plus run. If that had happened here, things would have been so tedious. But instead, it effortlessly carried the mood and emotion of the scene throughout the film.

In the course of my Medical Humanities module, we have been learning about film, especially about its relation to medicine. This involved learning about the language of film, how movies tell their story through shot, editing,mise-en-scene and sound. With that extra knowledge in my head, I could see just how cleverThe Artist was being. George starts out in a flash tuxedo, the major contrast in every scene. When his fortunes dip, he swaps for a brown suit, which blends more with the background. Conversely, Peppy stands out in every scene, underlining her growing importance. Subconsciously, everyone noticed that. Consciously, I smiled.

Mention must also go to the little dog that was never far from George’s side, Jack the dog. The Jack Russell injected a little ounce of comic relief with each little trick he pulled. I won’t he stole the show (Jean Dujardin gave a commanding performance) but he did make me smile with every scene he was in.

My closing words: The Artist is a very good film and despite homaging a by-gone era, is quite accessible. It reflects the very best of the cinema experience but was a bit on the long side. Go see it while you can. If it hadn’t won it’s well-deserved Oscars, I may not have got the chance!

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