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Cinema Review: The Artist (2011)

January 20, 2012


All the way through The Artist, I had a feeling inside me that felt very familiar, yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.  It was a good feeling-a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling, to be exact-but for the life of me, I just couldn’t figure out what it reminded me of.  Finally, today, it hit me.  The Artist is like Disneyland.

Now, bear with me here.  I know that to a lot of people, the idea of Disneyland is like hell on earth.  In fact, I know some people who think that way who I’m sure would absolutely adore The Artist.  I’m not saying The Artist is filled with giant mice, princess castles and children running riot (though that sounds like quite the fun film, if I’m honest)…what I’m saying is, the feeling that this film gave me is pretty much the exact feeling that I, a Disney freak, get at Disneyland.   What that feeling is, is an intense combination of pure joy and love.  Even the Disneyland haters, if they ever went there, would have to accept that the place is full of happiness.  Children, families and couples are walking around with permanent smiles etched on their faces, and for those of us who ‘get’ the magic, it’s glorious.  The Artist is exactly the same.  It just fills your entire soul with happiness and wonder.

The reason for this, in my personal opinion, is that the film is one made from love.  You can feel that love through every frame; love of silent films, love of performers, love of audiences, and just love of cinema in general.  Think of the films usually being shown at the multiplex (I’m thinking specifically of anything directed by Brett Ratner or Michael Bay, or kiddie franchises like Alvin & the Chipmunks); they *might* entertain you on a very basic level for a couple of hours, but you’re not going to remember them, and even if you do, you’re not going to feel any deep connection to them.  Why?  Because they’re not made out of passion.  They’re made purely for financial reasons, whether for the studio, the director or that star.  Generally, they’re just another day at work for the most of the people involved.  You just know, mere seconds into the film, that this isn’t the case with The Artist.  Every detail is perfect.  Director/writer Michel Hazanavicius wants you to fall in love with his film just as he clearly fell in love with cinema himself.  His characters are true cinematic creations; their actions are over the top, comedic, sometimes tragic, yet their emotions are entirely human.  As the film is, of course, almost completely silent, the actors have to completely embody these emotions and make you feel using only actions and gestures.  They pull it off so magnificently that I honestly can’t think of praise high enough.  Jean Dujardin, in the lead role of George Valentin, is especially stupendous, pulling off one of the greatest performances I’m sure I’ll ever see.  The score, too, is a massively important character in the film, perfectly complementing the actors; again, I can’t think of a score that even comes close in terms of connecting the audience to the story.

The Artist is, basically, a crowdpleaser.  It’s not there to make you miserable, to make you think about the meaning of life, or the usual ‘worthy’ fare thrown out in awards season.  It’s there to make you happy.  To make you remember how wonderful cinema can be, even in 2D, and even without words.  Go and see it, and fall in love.



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