Monday, February 27, 2012

The Artist

Starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, and John Goodman
Rated PG-13 for a disturbing image and obscene gesture
Running time: 100 minutes

Since The Artist just took home the coveted Academy Award for Best Motion Picture for 2011, I decided to tell readers at Flixy Mom how I enjoyed the movie and my thoughts on the family movie aspect of the film as well.

The Artist is a black and white silent film that tells the story of silent film star, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), and his fall from grace with movie audiences during the transition from silent films to “talkies.” While younger, progressive actors and actresses, including love interest, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), begin to steal the spotlight by speaking instead of hamming it up for the camera, George falls to the wayside, losing both his fame and his fortune.

If you think you’ve heard this storyline before, you’re not mistaken. This very theme was first depicted in A Star is Born (1939), starring Janet Gaynor and Fredrich March (a wonderful movie, by the way). We saw it again in A Star is Born (1954), starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in A Star is Born (1976), starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. I’m sure there are other variations on this theme floating around in the Hollywood archives, but suffice it to say, the story itself is not original. But, it was very original in its presentation: silent, black and white.

As a lover of the cinema, I was pretty confident, prior to purchasing my ticket for The Artist, that I would at least enjoy the film and be entertained. From the trailers, it looked to be a movie that I would describe as “cute.” And I was not disappointed. It was a delightfully told story with direction and cinematic effects that added to the theatrical experience. Both Dujardin and Bejo performed remarkably, making the audience love them, despite the fact that you never heard a peep from their lips. That, in my book, made them both very deserving of Oscars. I truly fell in love with their characters.

But, I will say, a whole host of people are not going to find this movie to be their cup of tea. First, it runs just a little too long. One audience member moaned about three fourths of the way through, “This is getting tedious,” and I did agree. The movie should have been about ten to fifteen minutes shorter in length – moments sometimes went on too long, way past the time when the audience “got the point.” Second, if you love dialogue, well, forget it. Ain’t none here. This is a visual experience through and through.

Is this movie family-friendly? Absolutely. And kids will love the dog – he steals the show. As for the “disturbing image and crude gesture,” I don’t remember either incident, and certainly wasn’t bothered or offended. I doubt many kids are going to enjoy the movie overall, however. Teenagers who have an affinity for the theater, movie history, etc. are likely to find The Artist entertaining, but that’s probably all. If there is any question about how bored your kids might become, you may want to wait for it to come out on Netflix.

For adults – I thoroughly enjoyed The Artist for its entertainment value. It was, in fact, a “cute” movie and I left with a smile on my face. If you enjoy a quieter, well-told tale without tons of action and powerful sound, I think you will as well. If your favorite movies are Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance, don’t waste your time or money – this movie isn’t for you.

Reviewed by Karen Cantwell

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