Everything old is new again. At least that’s what the producers of The Artist want you to believe. The Artist is not only an homage to the classic movies of the silent era, but it’s actually trying to be one. It’s silent and black-and-white, which are two obvious challenges to today’s audiences. While others are desperately trying to embrace the latest and greatest technologies of movie-making, like digital 3-D and performance-capture animation, The Artist goes retro. REALLY retro.
And, for the most part, it works.
When I first heard about this movie, I was thrilled at the prospect of something so daring and different. And it is that originality that is probably the reason this movie is being embraced the way it is. But, for me, I found it to be not much more than a charming diversion whose novelty wears off about halfway through the film.
Still, though, there is no denying The Artist’s appeal. Leading man Jean Dujardin, who plays a silent movie star whose star fades as the “talkies” take over Hollywood in the early thirties, is mesmerizing and a real throwback to the stars of yesteryear. Much of the praise for this movie centers around his performance, which is certainly entertaining and worthy of attention.
But even Dujardin, like The Artist as a whole, wears out his welcome a little too soon. The character is hard to root for and the movie itself seems to tread water near the middle as it reaches to stretch its thin story. French director/writer Michel Hazanavicius, who is best known for making spy movie parodies in France, may be out of his depth here as The Artist relies a little too much on its charm to sustain a full-length feature.
But, even so, The Artist deserves to be seen. Even though the filmmakers fall back on a couple unnecessary gimmicks to make it more contemporary, this film is endearing in its innocence, its sentimentality and its total effort. And it’s got a dog who steals this movie with a performance that will make War Horse green with envy.
Bottom line: it’s impossible to hate this movie. See it for yourself and decide if it’s your cup of tea. It definitely is worth a sip.