As a Mother’s Day special, Regal Cinemas is bringing back last year’s best film, The Artist. It won Oscars, Golden Globes and a dozen other awards for best picture, best actor, best screenplay and so on.
If you missed it last time, don’t miss it this time.
The Artist breaks all the rules.
For one, it’s a silent movie. Big no-no. There isn’t much dialogue to read. You just get the basics. A sentence here, a paragraph there. White letters pasted on a black screen. Much of what happens is conveyed from facial expressions, the posture of the actors, or by action.
Jean Dujardin is George Valentin. When The Artist opens, he is the world’s biggest silent film star. It’s the dawn of the age of sound. When sound becomes all the rage in 1927, George is unwilling to change. It’s a mistake that quickly makes him the world’s newest has-been.
George’s story covers several years and is riches to rags back to riches. There is the fall from stardom, an unhappy marriage, a happy coincidence that makes a young woman with girl-next-door good looks a big star. For humor, you’re given a cute and clever dog.
Helping the story along is music. It fits the flavor of the era and is 1920s retro. While not exactly tuneless, like the films of yesteryear, the music is designed to punctuate the emotional make-up of an actor or actors in a particular scene. Laughter or love. Anger and dismay, and so on.
Rule break two. The Artist is in black and white. Gasp! How could they? Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius shot the movie in a format that removes a frame here and there to give it an authentic, strobing, silent film look.
And the two ways he introduces sound is pure genius.
The charismatic Dujardin is electric. He has one line. Yet with the best smile this side of Jack Nicholson, Dujardin says more with his expressive face and body language than most actors can do with multiple pages of dialogue. His co-star Bejo is lovely. Love, kindness and loyalty not only anchor her character but they also ooze from her.
Theirs is a unique love story. She lives in a world of sound. His is filled with silence. With no words, just a lingering look here, a longer look there, a sad smile, a happy smile, and close-ups of the eyes and face, the passion between Dujardin and Bejo has more sizzle than anything you’ll find in a conventional movie where couples bond in carefully choreographed love scenes with more sound than is usually necessary.
And Hazanavicius makes you wait on the love story. And wait some more. And anticipate. It makes the love story even more delectable.
Hazanavicius is a genius and his tribute to a genre long lost is pure genius. The accolades you have heard about The Artist are deserved. Please, forget the Netflix cue or a future planned trip to a Red Box, or one of the few video stores left. The Artist deserves to be seen on a big screen.
Sorry for the lecture. From here I’ll remain silent except to say that this is one last chance to see The Artist where it deserves to be seen.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.