The Artist

HD Trailer

It’s a silent film from 2011. No really, if it didn’t have familiar faces like John Goodman and James Cromwell in it, you could think it was actually made in 1927, the year in which it takes place. It’s in black and white and other than music it has no sound (with a few notable exceptions) and some dialogue is given in title cards.

Jean Dujardin plays the role of silent movie star in the roaring twenties as if he was born a hundred years earlier. George Valentin is a major star of silent cinema. Then the first talkies appear and Valentin is staunchly unwilling (unable perhaps?) to make the transition. Meanwhile, his protege Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) rises to fame as one of the prime stars of this newfangled movies-with-sound nonsense.

All the actors do an amazing job of adapting to the medium and play their roles with the characteristic exaggerated mimicry of the time. The presentation of the image of the time is nothing short of amazing.

I’m seeing it this weekend.

Jean Dujardin is pretty great in the OSS 117 movies too.

Just saw this tonight and loved it. Both Dujardin and Bejo do a great job and the little dog almost steals the show. It really feels like an old movie from the 30’s, it has that tone of those old optimistic talkies, even though it’s a silent film.

Dujardin does exaggerate as needed in a silent film, but he does a terrific job of giving just enough. He has many scenes with wonderfully subtle mannerisms that are just terrific. You have to have an amazing amount of charisma to function as a silent film star, and both leads prove they have it.

I also love the small cameos, particularly the butlers. I think Cromwell’s character was developed nicely, but was amazed how little Malcolm McDowell spent on screen.

So is Jean Dujardin a dead ringer for Sean Connery’s James Bond or what?

Saw it this weekend and really liked it. I do have a question or two about the end. Are we cool with spoilers yet?


[spoiler]It didn’t seem clear to me exactly what George’s staunch refusal to give the talkies a shot was. I mean, obviously it was pride, but was that all? As the movie went on, I thought maybe it was hinting at some further insecurity, but I wasn’t sure. Specifically, the scene where he’s checking his reflection in the suit in the store window and the policeman says something to him, when we get the closeup of the officer’s mouth. Was there some very specific significance to that? Was it just an arbitrary moment for him to realize “Hey, talking is what people do every day in the real world, I’m a fool for not seeing it”?

Then my other question, why is dancing what gets him back? Obviously there was some dancing early in the film, specifically the moment when George meets Peppy, but it didn’t seem to be that big a deal. When a dancing act turns out to be what gets him back into the spotlight, that felt like it came out of left field. It was weird that the producer (Goodman) is so adamant that George not even be given a chance to take a stab at acting in a talky, but as soon as they suggest dancing, his eyes light up like it’s a sure thing.

I’d love to know if there’s something I missed that gives context to either of those moments, but even if there isn’t, it was still a delightful film.[/spoiler]

An answer to your spoiler question:


I thought this was pretty overt, but at the end of the dance number you finally hear him speak, and his English is so bad that it’s clear he’d never survive as a talkie star.

That makes sense

I guess it’s my ignorance of entertainment of the era that I wasn’t sure if that was just an incidental detail or intended as some kind of “reveal” as to why he didn’t have a shot in the talkies.

I enjoyed it a lot, I was expecting to hate it but then I realised what sort of silent film it was going for. I think people aren’t talking about it in the right way, they lump all silent pictures in as one genre when this is a very particular genre (basically a romantic comedy ala Douglas Fairbanks). It was very light and witty, I suppose a modern day equivalent would be a Clooney comedy, smart but not too smart, broad but not too broad. I also very much enjoyed it when I realised someone was swearing.

I think it did a great job of setting the correct tone and sticking to it’s own rules.

I think it will win a few Oscars for the dog alone.

“The talking at the end…I wasn’t crazy about it. I didn’t really need to hear him talk and I felt like if he was going to talk it should be at a more meaningful point in the story. The dancing thing is tricky, it certainly makes sense in terms of its how he relates to Peppy, but it’s not like films with dancing didn’t require talking let alone singing. I found his flip-flopping on the talking thing a bit weird.”

[SPOILER=]But wasn’t that the right point? We finally find out he couldn’t make the transition because he’d never had to lose his thick French accent as a silent movie star.

That’s one of the great things about the movie. That even characters inside the movie itself are unable to hear themselves and others speak. So regular interpersonal relations are done according to the rules of silent cinema.[/spoiler]

[SPOILER=]"His accent may have been the problem but it didn’t seem like it and if that was the case why did no one point it out before the end? The characters are able to hear themselves and each other, there were plenty parts un-subbed where they speak to each other and understand on another, he even had a dream sequence where he was frustrated by his inability to talk. This is something only the director/writer could clear up though, so I suppose I’ll give it a point for maintaining the sort of ambiguity that makes silent films so engaging for me.

I feel like his accent was French because Dujardin is French. The main problem for him seemed to be his pride rather than his accent."[/spoiler]

This thread should probably be retitled to say “contains spoilers” so we can talk a bit more easily.

Possibly, but my money is still on Hugo for Best Picture.

Pretty sure that’s not the case at all. Otherwise the primary conflict driving the movie is nonsense.

Then how can every other character in the movie be completely unaware of George Valentine’s accent? If his accent is the reason why he can’t make the transition (as I’m pretty sure the movie implies) why would John Goodman expect him to do talkies at all?

Maybe I’m misunderstanding your idea, but if the characters can’t hear each other speak in real life, how can “talkies” even exist?

I thought it was simply a shallow joke not meant to be taken out of the context of movie logic.

I finally caught The Artist at the cinema with my wife last night (been wanting to see it since before all the nominations) and it was a fantastic movie. The leads were charismatic and excellent. The story was indeed a Clooney-esque comedy. And the use (and withholding of sound) was really well judged. We had a great time and so did the rest of the audience.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should!

I was also really pleased to discover that the Blu Ray just came out in France and comes with the original soundtrack. So I immediately ordered it and am looking forward to watching it again.


Fairbanks-esque not Clooney-esque!!!

The further I get from this film the less I like it, it feels much more faddish and gimmicky and flash in the pan-esque. I feel like I’ll be seeing a lot of copies of it in bargain bins and charity shops in the next few years.

Fair point. :)

We’ll see how I feel about the movie in the future. But I certainly don’t think I’ll like it less and less the further I get from it. Time will tell. But, for me, it was very well crafted and enjoyable with excellent leads. Also, the visual and facial humour is a staple of French comedy, even in more modern days. So the movie fits neatly into that.

The other thing this movie prompted me to order is the OSS117 boxset (same director, same leads, at least in the first movie). A Gaellic James Bond with Clouseau-esque characteristics should be good fun.


The GF and I saw this last night. I like it. It was a fun movie, and very well done, but it was certainly not what I expected from an Oscarwinning movie.

The lead was pretty damn good as a Silent Movie Actor as was the female lead but he just oozed charm, as did the dog.

I just didn’t understand the movie. Was it supposed to tell us something about being an artist? About silent movies? About daring to move beyond the comfort zones?

I have no idea and as others have noted, the ending didn’t make it better.

All in all, a good movie, but I have no idea why it won oscars.

Well considering the dreck that wins Oscars at least this was an interesting experiment, so maybe we can chalk it up to half-assed Hollywood karma.