The Artist

February, 2012, Comedy

Directed by:Michel Hazanavicius

Starring:Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, and Uggie

 

Tri-fle, Noun (tri-fel) Something of little value, substance or importance.

 This unexpectedly successful throwback to the last days of silent film fits Webster’s definition perfectly.  But that doesn’t mean the movie isn’t charming  - - in the manner of a Betty Boop cartoon. 

 Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius takes audiences back to the golden age of silent films and demonstrates, after some painfully padded minutes, why sound was the salvation of Hollywood. The storyline is simplicity itself; silent film heartthrob George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) gives new-comer Pepy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) her big break in what turns out to be one of Valentin’s last films; she goes on to stardom in the talkies while he takes a deep dive into the bottle, only to be snatched from oblivion by Pepy’s insistence that he make his comeback in her latest picture.

The director and his leads have worked together before, in a pair of spoofs of James Bond movies which played primarily in Europe. Dujardin is an appealing presence, despite an annoying moustache and a tendency to mug far too often for the camera. Bejo is appealing, but how much substance can you deliver in a role that was a cliché half a century ago. And if the director asks you to play a cliché to be one, how do you make it interesting? The nod for best acting in this movie goes to Uggie, a canine scene-stealer to rival William Powell's lapdog in The Thin Man series.

 There’s a great deal of wonderful period detail here-costumes, antique cars and a washed-out pallet employed by cinematograpner to convey a deliberately contrived faux ambiance.  

The Verdice? Ten minutes of clever followed by 90 minutes of more of the same. After a while, even well-made treacle gets on your nerves.

 

 

 

 

There’s a great deal of wonderful period detail here-costumes, antique cars and a washed-out pallet employed by cinematograpner to convey a deliberately contrived faux ambiance. But the film’s biggest asset is Uggie, a canine scene stealer that rivals Asta, the lap-dog made famous in The Thin Man series.

 

 

Jake's Takes comments powered by Disqus