|Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo in Jean Hazanavicius's The Artist|
**** out of ****
The Artist is just damn cute. I've always had an admiration for movies that pretend to be from another age and get it so right. It means that they put a lot of work into making it look authentic, which has to be very difficult. Then they can relax and embrace the naiveté of another era and do silly things like in this movie where a cute dog goes to find a police officer for help, which would be an eye-roller in any kind of modern context or approach.
Some may not see the point in resurrecting another era of cinema or any kind of art. The objective here doesn't seem to be adding any kind of twist. For example you can look at how Spielberg and Lucas took their love of cheap adventure serials and turned them into technically sophisticated colorful epics like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. Tarantino did the same with seventies exploitation B-movies. Then you also have your spoofs like Black Dynamite and Down with Love which were made to seem like old movies but were subtly mocking them.
Like 2002's Far From Heaven, the filmmaker is clearly in love with a form of another time and is making a movie that they wish had been made back then. The viewing experience of The Artist is just the same as watching a great movie from the silent era. What separates it from those old films is that it is a silent film about silent film.
Everyone in this movie is amazing. They're natural physical actors. Every now and then, when spotting a familiar character actor, I would feel a bit of surprise because I forgot I was watching a new movie.
This film is just so sweet and innocent. It feels like such a special gift to watch something that puts into perspective that what worked so well back in the twenties still works now.