I finally managed to get off my ass and watch The Artist.
I’m not even going to really bother with much of a synopsis of the film. It’s Oscar nominated for a number of things and people are more or less aware of what the films about. The movie is set in the 1930’s/40’s (there’s some time shifts) and focuses on George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who is a famous silent film actor. He’s pretty much supposed to be Douglas Fairbanks or Chaplin. Over the course of the film Hollywood shifts to talkies and Valentin does not take part and things go downhill for him and that’s what the movie focuses on.
The movie’s storyline is really pretty simple and easy to follow. It’s not exactly anything new either, but it’s a pretty solid script.
The acting was confusing. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo do a great job replicating silent film actors and outside of that their performances are quite good. I do however think they’re being overhyped because the film is touted as a “silent film” (which it isn’t!) The actors are still speaking their lines, we just don’t hear them. I was able to read their lips for a decent amount of the film, because of that. Their lack of audible dialog doesn’t make their performances any greater though. Not too harp on Drive constantly, but Gosling’s character is very non-verbal and his performance was great. There are plenty of examples of phenomenal acting that isn’t verbal. Again it’s not that they weren’t good, but I just felt people were over hyping some things.
The Artist didn’t blow me away. Maybe I went into this movie not wanting to be in love with it too much, but at this point I’m standing firm. It was a really good movie. They did a great job replicating the silent film era, but I don’t feel like that’s enough. People talk about how emotional the movie was and I didn’t feel that connection and it had nothing to do with the lack of audible talking. I just didn’t feel like their was enough oomph in the film. For something that was supposed to be a melodrama, I didn’t feel it. The movie just seems way over hyped to me.
The score was quite bad as well. It wasn’t that the arrangements were bad pieces, but that they just didn’t fit. The score got dull at a couple of points and I never really felt like it added to the movie. I’m obsessed with film scores and regardless of whether the movie is a talkie or a silent film the score is really vital. I mean a great movie can be ruined by a crappy score and vice versa. When the only sound for the majority of the film is this score, it should really be playing off the emotions of the screen and I just didn’t see that.
I feel like this is going to be a passing thing. I really don’t see many people re-watching this film. I think a lot of the faults with this movie are being overlooked because it’s attempting to capture the silent film era. If the same movie were done with color and sound I feel like people would be more eager to tear it too shreds. I think some people are forgetting that this is NOT a silent film. I think there are what, three uses of diegetic sound in the film. That’s there for a reason and I actually enjoyed that, but using that really breaks down people referring to this as silent movie.
As harsh as I may seem to be about The Artist, it is still a good movie, but I don’t think it’s as phenomenal as a number of people are saying. I’m really curious to see what people think of this movie down the road.
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