Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Reviewed by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Being a writer colors everything I do. It colors the way I read, the way I watch a movie, and even the way I listen to the lyrics of a song.
For me, story and characters come first. And only if these two work can I fully enjoy the rest.
That’s why Avatar, James Cameron’s outstanding 3D extravaganza, left me cold. The story was Disney’s Pocahontas on the big scale, but the characters, unlike their world, never developed beyond 2D. That’s why Martin Scorsese’s Hugo failed short for me: the special effects were magnificent, but the story missed the magic. And that’s why The Artist, my bet for Best Picture Winner in this year’s Oscars, failed to enchant me.
Yes, I agree with most of the praise this film has received:
the acting is superb, and not over the top, which could have easily been considering that it’s a silent movie, and as silent movie star Norma Desmond famously says in Sunset Blvd.: “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.”
the music is great,
the doggie, oh! so cute,
and even the musical numbers (not my favorite part in any occasion) had spark this time.
Yet, I wasn’t transported. I never forgot I was watching a movie.
I think the reason ultimately was that the plot was predictable, and the characters for all their on screen charm (they are actors, after all in the story) were not wholly developed.
Jean Dujardin our protagonist is charming, but not especially likable. He pays no attention to his wife. When at one point, she tells him: “I’m unhappy,” his answer is: “So are millions of us.”
And the love story never felt believable for me. It went from inappropriate (he’s married and 15-20 years his senior) to seriously creepy.
Yes, The Artist is charming and a charming tribute to an era when movies were still new and full of promises. And both the public and the critics love it.
But for me it didn’t work. Not totally.
I’m in the minority though:
The astist has so far won three Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Original Score, and Best Actor (Motion Picture Musical or Comedy) and was nominated for ten Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Hazanavicius, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Dujardin, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Bejo and ten Cesar Awards (the French Oscars).
If you still wonder whether The Artist is for you, here is the Official trailer to help you decide.