Was becoming a siren of the silver screen ever as easy as being in the right place at the right time? It was for Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). When Peppy goes down to Kinograph Studios in – where else – Hollywoodland, she has a fateful drop of a pocketbook and literally bumps into handsome silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin). A brief moment of mortification turns into a laugh and a laugh turns into front page news. A more realistic idea takes place after this meeting, as it really is who you know and not what you do when it comes to getting into show business. Thankfully, Peppy’s wild curls and pearly whites were enough to catch the eye of George Valentin and she gets her first role in a big screen picture. The on-screen chemistry flows over into real life chemistry. George’s wife is nonplussed with all of this and not even his adorable antics with his faithful pup can get him out of this one.
Aside from his marital troubles, George has an even bigger matter keeping him up at night. Talkies have just been introduced as the next big thing. Now, I don’t understand why George wouldn’t just make the transition myself, but the film makes it incredibly clear that he is quite proud of his silent films. Fortunately for Kinograph, the wildly adorable Peppy Miller isn’t afraid to get on camera and speak. Speak, sing, whistle… she’ll do it all. Guess this means they don’t need George anymore. Cue sad, washed up music…
Call me a sucker if you like, but that silent film song and dance (no pun intended) always gets me. Black and white makes everything so glamorous. When you throw two attractive people into the mix, it’s a guaranteed hit. I’m not the only one who ate this movie up. Hollywood will surely be kissing director Michel Hazanavicius’s feet come award show season. Dujardin already won Best Actor at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and the film is carrying six Golden Globe nominations. God only knows what will happen at the Academy Awards, but I imagine that THE ARTIST will do just fine.
There is just something so charming about actors that can dance in tap shoes and look damn fine doing it. Old Hollywood is always regarded fondly and with the way things are going there these days, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of that again. The only thing fake about Peppy Miller is her mole. Oops. Spoiler alert. There’s an innocence to this movie that our society doesn’t experience anymore. Also, Ludovic Bource -, the man behind the score for THE ARTIST – truly captured the sound of the era. A lot of simple piano is a good way to stir emotions and make the viewer believe they are watching a movie that is really from the late 1920s – early 1930s.
THE ARTIST took second place in my favorite movies of the year. Really, it is a fun movie with lots of pretty imagery and good toe-tapping music. It also flies by. It proves that we don’t need boner/fart jokes and profanity to make an enjoyable movie. I don’t mean to go all Will Smith 1999 MTV VMAs on you, but it truly is rare to find a film that makes us laugh and cry and emote all over without nudity/profanity/bodily excretions. In fact, not a word is spoken in THE ARTIST until the very end. It is just really well done and even though it is very obviously appealing to the vintage Hollywood style of doing things, I thoroughly enjoyed it.