The Artist is set during the declining years of silent cinema, in which huge star George Valentin develops a fondness for rising beauty Peppy. However when the talkies takeover, so does Peppy’s fame, eclipsing poor George who finds himself, his art form and his love, destined for the scrap heap.
It’s easy to see why critics have gone bonkers for The Artist. In a time when output seems to be saturated in special effects, big stars and most detested of all, 3D films, a silent black and white film whose biggest name is John Goodman is so refreshingly retro and ingenuously simple that it’s hard not to be swept away in its charms. Furthermore, its structure is solid and its lead has bags full of character. And perhaps to put the cherry on top, it even has a cute stunt performing dog.
However I can’t get past the fact that the films greatest appeal is its novelty, and as bold a move as it is to release a black and white silent film in this day and age, this film is merely a tribute to an era gone by. Yes it has nailed the tone, the techniques, the lighting and the settings, but at the end of the day it’s still a tribute. It’s the Michael Buble of films; an accurate do up of old shtick, which as pleasant as it is, wouldn’t you just rather watch an actual old black and white film from the 1920’s?
By all means go and see this film, be amused by its novelty, in awe of its accuracy and charmed by the chemistry of its leads. There is no denying this made a truly unique cinema experience. But know it’s riding on a wave of hype inspired by the boredom of critics fed up with the run of the mill output of modern times. It’s a weirdly likeable, nostalgia trip but in my opinion nothing that is truly groundbreaking.