|Rated PG-13 for "a disturbing image and a crude gesture."|
(Well, now you have to watch it, right?)
Silent era actresses were another highlight of the genre, with timeless beauties like Mignon Anderson, Lillian Gish, Pauline Frederick and others. Let it be said, though, that love for or even experience with silent films are not prerequisites for the enjoyment of this film. The great thing about The Artist is that it pays homage to all of those original black & whites. Shadow play, reflections, opening credits, inter-titles, exaggerated body language and facial expressions all play a part. The talented and beautiful Bérénice Bejo does a wonderful job as leading lady Peppy Miller opposite Jean Dujardin's impressive portrayal of George Valantin. Plus, Uggie as 'The Dog'. He and Asta from The Thin Man and its sequels would totally have been best mates.
|Actors playing directors, camera men, gaffers, clappers, and a really cute dog.|
Parisian writer/director (and Bejo's spouse) Michel Hazanavicius did extraordinarily well with this film. The way he explores the failure of some silent movie stars to make the transition into talkies is heartbreaking when contrasted with the sometimes slapstick humour and touching romantic bits. Hazanavicus expertly breaks the fourth wall when (spoiler!) Valantin has a nightmare of a world with sound. He becomes hyperaware of it all; a falling feather hits ground and resonates like a bass drum as the actor silently screams and wakes up. Here, the audience is pulled into reality. The scene acts to remind them that it is not just any ordinary silent film they are viewing. This happens again right before the end credits roll when (another spoiler!), after Miller and Valantin complete a musical production number, the diegetic sound is suddenly turned on and the audience can hear that the two actors are out of breath.
The director calls "Cut!" and the studio boss—played by none other than John Goodman—exclaims "Perfect! Beautiful...could you give me just one more?" Everyone hears Dujardin's voice for the very first time: "With pleasure." Those on set prepare to do another take as the 'actual' camera pulls backwards before resting at an overhead angle, recording from above. When everyone is ready, the director yells "Action!" Roll credits, cue big band music: perfection. When I first saw this scene in the cinema, every sound was acute. There was a photoplay-esque soundtrack throughout the entirety of the film, but finally being able to hear the amplified and synchronized sound had a major effect nonetheless. Bringing the roaring twenties into the 2010s has never been more well done.
Look how full of whimsy it is! And tragedy! Gah, my heart!
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