What is the purpose of film? For some, it's solely to be entertained. For others, it's to be whisked away into a story that is both enchanting and transcending of everyday reality. No matter what your personal purpose is for cinema, Michael Hazanavicius' The Artist will satisfy the objective. Every now and again a movie comes along and receives an overwhelming amount of critical acclaim, so much so that it leaves you scratching your head. The Artist is not an example of such a film. Each carefully calculated compliment given to this instant masterpiece is warranted and well deserved. Alongside Alexander Payne's The Descendants and Martin Scorsese's Hugo, The Artist is one of three frontrunners for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And by choosing The Artist, it would mean the Academy got it right.
Set in 1920's Hollywood, The Artist follows the rise and fall of silent film star George Valentin (played by Dujardin). As the king of silent film, Valentin is living on top of a world where nothing can bring him down. That is, until "talkies" (the term used for the sound-on disc system of film making) become the biggest craze. In a new age of Hollywood, Valentin quickly becomes lost and struggles to find his purpose. But with the aid of a rising "talkies" star named Peppy Miller (played by Bejo), perhaps Valentin can return to the heights he once attained.
With The Artist, writer and Director Michael Hazanavicius delivers an unforgettable journey into the ever changing world of cinema. The (mostly) silent black and white film is a gratifying experience that succeeds because of its leading actor Jean Dujardin. A shoe-in for a Best Actor nomination, Dujardin manages to take this risky premise and transform it into a must see piece of work. His performance is magical and, by all means, the backbone of the film. Dujardin, a French born actor, is a truly gifted star with unmatched talent. Hopefully with all of the recognition he's sure to receive, Dujardin will begin to dazzle in American cinema. In addition to the lead star, Berenice Bejo is simply wonderful as the up and comer Peppy Miller. Because of her fabulous performance on screen, Bejo should be a mortal lock for an Oscar nomination as well. Thanks in large part to its brilliant cast, The Artist is one of 2011's must see films.
There are many other aspects of the movie that propel it to elite status. Ludovic Bource composes an excellent score that aids the film in so many ways. Like I previously mentioned, attempting to sell a black and white silent film to modern audiences is a difficult task. However, Hazanavicius molds together a marvelous cast with an exceptional score. These aspects interweave together perfectly to make the majestic film that is The Artist.
There are very few negatives to the movie. The second act becomes a little warn out, but the script's continuous jokes help pull you through any dull moments. Since the movie has such a lengthy second leg, the ending feels slightly abrupt. But all in all, these tiny criticisms go rather unnoticed and must be sought out. Therefore, The Artist is a charming and delightful piece of film making that is worthy of all its praise.