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‘The Artist’ Silently Pays Tribute to Old School Cinema



Genre: , ,
Starring: , ,
Directed By:
MPAA Rating:
Release Date: November 23, 2012
Length: 100 minutes




Total Score
9/ 10



The film has a terrific cast.


It's a bit of a gimmick.

Bottom Line

In paying homage to the silent cinema of the 1920s and 1930s with virtually no spoken dialogue, ‘The Artist’ becomes a black-and-white silent film of some stature in its own right.

Posted January 15, 2012 by

Full Review

In the age of surround sound, digital 3-D and high definition video, it’s refreshing to see a film like The Artist. In paying homage to the silent cinema of the 1920s and 1930s with virtually no spoken dialogue, The Artist becomes a  black-and-white silent film of some stature in its own right.

The movie’s star is Jean Dujardin, a French actor with over a decade of filmmaking under his belt. He plays silent film icon George Valentin, a real charmer who shamelessly mugs for the camera, whether he’s on a set or off. Shortly after the premiere of his latest effort, A Russian Affair, he has a series of chance meetings with Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). The two flirt, and George gives her some advice, telling her that every actress has a signature mark as he pencils a mole on her cheek. George even goes against the wishes of his producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman) and lets her have a role in his next film.

As “talkies” quickly replace silent films and the stock market crashes, Al and George part ways. Cast out by the studio, George produces and directs his own silent film, but it flops, sending him into a downward spiral of depression that culminates when his wife Doris (Penelope Ann Miller) kicks him out of the house. Disgusted, he burns his own film reels, almost killing himself in the ensuing fire. Having gone on to become a Hollywood star, Peppy takes the despondent (and broke) George into her home and finds a script for him. Although George is adamant that moviegoers won’t pay to hear him talk, Peppy devises a plan to him back on the big screen.

At its heart, The Artist is a love story. Even if they don’t immediately start a relationship, the charismatic George and Peppy fall for each other upon first sight. While their careers head in opposite directions, Peppy never forgets George; she even buys his estate when it goes up for auction.  The film is also a tribute to the silent film era. By shooting in black and white, using captions for the dialogue, and having a humanized canine character often there to save the day, director Michel Hazanavicius successfully evokes the moviemaking of yesteryear. His film looks spectacular and goes to great lengths to capture the period with the appropriate costumes and set pieces. Dujardin does a great job of showing the extent to which the talkies changed George’s attitude toward life and altered his fun-loving attitude. And Bejo is equally terrific as the woman who continues to love him, even as he doubts himself. Both look like classic film stars, too.

We have to be honest. About five minutes in we wondered if we’d be able to sit through a feature length silent film.  Turns out, it was no trouble at all. Though a bit of a novelty, The Artist is so meticulously crafted with such an engaging cast, it overcomes that limitation.


Sam is live-music -loving vegetarian communications professional with an entertainment, travel and tourism background. A restless soul, Sam believes in getting out there and doing things because you only go around once but knows she could benefit from a little more sleep. Give her a reason to see a movie, catch a concert or explore a new destination at [email protected].


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