The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius, 2011)
Actually, I don’t have any experience watching black and white cinema. I remember I had watched Michael Soderbergh’s The Good German (2006), but I couldn’t finish it yet. I don’t know why. Although there are some huge stars, such as George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, and Tobey Maguire, I just couldn’t. Maybe colorful film interested me more. And I don’t have familiarity at all with silent film. I’ve never seen it before.
Last week, for the first time, I watched a black and white silent film, The Artist. If it didn’t won Oscar’s best picture, maybe I wouldn’t, of course I prefer watching colorful modern film to that one. I also decided watching other best picture nominee’s films to watch first, like Hugo, The Descendant, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, etc. The Artist is my last list.
I just wonder how a black and white silent film could win best picture (and defeat the legend Martin Scorsese’s Hugo)? Even Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu’s super moving film Babel couldn’t defeat Martin Scorsese’s The Departed in Oscar (Innaritu defeated him in Golden Globe:). So, I need to figure out.
This is generally about love story between George Valentine (Jean Ducardin) and Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). George (and Jack, George’s dog) is the superstar of silent film in Hollywood in 1927. All people adore him very much.
He accidentally meets Miller, a charm and beautiful ordinary girl. Suddenly, she becomes the center of attention. She has opportunity to be a star and play together with her favorite star, George Valentine. In the next years, some change happens. There is transition from silent to sound film. People prefer sound film to silent. Miller now is the big star of sound film. Meanwhile, George is still at his place in silent film. Miller becomes a famous superstar, neither does he. Miller is rich, neither is he. In such a difficult condition, Miller tries to help him secretly in order not to fall his self price down. That’s it. You must watch the rest by yourself.
Let’s talk about it. I think the whole concept of silent film is amazing. It’s a challenging film when there are many high quality colorful film with spectacular special effect grow rapidly now. The story is simple and classic. This is what I call as an instant classic. The comedy part is hilarious enough. The direction is clever. It’s not easy to direct kind of film in this era, and I guess it works on me. It actually speaks a lot beautifully. My favorite part is when George dreams about the beginning of transition from silent to sound film.
The performance is the core. Jean Ducardin is stunning. His smile and his charisma as an actor are powerful. His acting is flawless. Berenice Bejo is fine. The dog really steals audience’s attention. It makes me smile and even laugh. Nothing special I guess about the score. It just captured what period it was well.
Deserved Best Picture Anyone?
That is the big question. Personally, I don’t think that it deserved Best Picture. Yup, it’s good film, a film that you should be running out to see. As I said before that I don’t have any familiarity with this kind of film, so I can’t compare it, but maybe because of the silent film, so the story is just simple and predictable.
I would choose Hugo, if there were (at least) some characters speak France. So, I guess The Descendants did.
Jean Ducardin deserved Best Actor more than George Clooney. His smile and charisma really talk. He is the revelation. What a fine performance! Actually, I just realized that I’ve ever laughed because of his previous role in Brice de Nice (2005). Now after years, he made me laugh again.
If you really wonder why this kind of film got Best Picture, just go figure it out. I will wait for your opinion.
George Valentin: I won’t talk! I won’t say a word!
Clifton: Beware of your pride, if I may say so, Sir. Miss Miller is a good person, believe me.