I am about to watch a silent French film made in 2011 about the early days of movies...and I'm so pleased that the sentence I just typed was allowed to exist. In a world of remakes and sequels and prequels and adaptations, it's so heartening that someone took a chance on a concept like this and allowed it the opportunity to succeed. Even if I don't come out of this liking the film, it's still a win for me.
George Valentin is one of America's most beloved silent stars in the late 1920s. At one of his premieres, he meets an aspiring young actress named Peppy Miller, and sparks fly. She's a glorified extra in his latest film, and the two of them are too busy flirting to get a decent take in. George finds her creeping around in his dressing room, and...paints a beauty spot on her face? Cause apparently all you need to stand out in Hollywood is a nicely placed birthmark.
Anyway, things are going pretty well for George -- UNTIL THE TALKIES ARE INVENTED.
He is so 100% offended by the concept of talking pictures, he and his studio part ways. George decides that he's going to keep making silent films on his own, without any studio backing. Who do you think you are, Charlie Chaplin?
This, as it turns out, is a colossal failure, and his stock falls pretty quickly, while Peppy is becoming the new Hollywood star. Oh, speaking of stocks -- Stock Market Crash. George loses all his money. Sad times forever. The film then follows him on his downward spiral, while he is forced to pawn his fancy suit, auction off all of his worldly possessions, fire his butler, and get his ass divorced by his wife. I realize these are first world problems, but it's still pretty depressing. Especially when James Cromwell (the butler/chauffeur) just stands outside pathetically all night long, waiting by the car, hoping that George will unfire him.
- Love that this asshole's got a life-sized painting of himself hanging in his mansion. That kind of tackiness just screams epic fall from grace.
- I love the reference to Citizen Kane, with him and his wife getting more and more buttoned up at breakfast to symbolize how they're growing further apart. Somebody's taken Introduction to American Cinema.
- How cool is this shot?
- I really like the montage sequence showing Peppy Miller's rise to fame. Especially since in the first film she does, they spell her name wrong. Cause who hasn't been there?
- Ugh, these movies always make me so sad. When someone is on the top of the world and falls to irrelevance and redundancy. If somebody made a film about how the typewriter felt when the computer came along, I'd probably cry through that too.
- I think George Valentin might be the reason why there are so many lost silent films. I mean, if he's going to start burning them all every time he's drunk and depressed!
- Seriously, the dog is the star of the movie. He is the one who deserves the accolades, the awards, and all of the snausages.
- Awww OMG the one print that he saves is the film he worked on with Peppy. That is so sweet!
- I love when Peppy tries to get all tough and give John Goodman an ultimatum about letting George in the film...and does a terrible job. Like, she has to confirm that she's blackmailing him.
- I love the image of him walking into that spare room and finding all of his old possessions covered in white sheets...the ghosts of his past.
So that's The Artist. It's a really interesting concept and I think it's executed well here. Also, it's really just a relief to see something different once in a while. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo are both perfect for their roles, in that they embody the 1920s film stars and are both so expressive that they can manage in a film where they're not allowed to talk.