George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie actor who is at the peak of his career. He has everything an actor can want; fame, money, plenty of work. Where he goes, the public and press follow him, but times change and the movie industry is slowly evolving. Things are changing at a dramatic pace and what George considers entertainment the movie industry considers it obsolete. The silent cinema is no longer a thing of today, but of tomorrow and George feels his life is spiraling out of control. The new star is a young woman by the name of Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who he feels attracted to, but feels threaten by since she represent the new generation of filmmaking. George is lost and must find a way to set his life back on track as his work is no longer what the audience wants; can he get passed his struggles? Can he truly fit into a world that is no longer silent? Only time can tell.
The movie is charming and very engrossing right from the beginning. We see a story that not only details the struggles and changes of the main character, but also that of the film industry. The film was silent from the beginning but it managed to convey the message through the actions of its protagonists. The Artist is a story of love and struggle, of a man that thought he had it all until his very world came crumbling down when the world began to evolve and he was deeply frighten by the sudden change. The filmmakers captured the struggles with incredible accuracy giving the audience more attachment to the character. The seamless depiction of a world of silence to a world with noise was greatly captured; this is perhaps the best part of the movie.
The flow of the story was great and each stage depicted the changes and how they affected George, the music of the film became a big part of the movie leading the way as the movie evolved. The music really gave every moment a powering effect. Moving on, the acting from the entire cast was superb without a doubt, especially Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The two protagonists were by far the best; their performances deserve all the praise they have received to date. The homage to the film industry couldn’t have been executed any better than this. The film was done to resemble the same techniques used by silent filmmakers so don’t expect anything more than that.
Even though the movie was excellent in its own right, I did find that sometimes the narrative was so dramatic and the conversation was so involved that the sequence felt like something was missing. There was nothing wrong with the way the scenes played out, but yes the narrative was a bit of a letdown in a few segments of the film. Other than that I felt the movie was excellent.
The Artist arrives on Blu-ray with an MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 1.33:1. For starters the movie is very true to the style of silent cinema where black and white was dominant. The movie featured good detailing on close ups. White colors are bright and shiny. Black levels are well rendered, but can be overwhelming at times. I did manage to spot some banding in a few scenes, but not something so distracting. Overall, the picture is fitting the style that director Michel Hazanavicius has chosen for the film. We couldn’t really have asked for more from this picture.
The Artist arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. The film is silent so majority of what goes on is driven by the excellent score of Academy Award winner Ludovic Bource. The music flows very nicely throughout each of the speakers thanks to the spacious mix. Although the fronts sound great, the surrounds are rarely used since the design is made to resemble that of the time with some robustness, but every now and then we can hear some activity. The bass suffers similar fate since it’s used on very few occasions. Overall, the films sounds great and reproduces the audio in the way it was intended.
The Artist: The Making of an American Romance – This is a very cool behind the scenes look at that making of The Artist. The piece features some actor interviews as well as a look at the sets, rehearsals, interviews, etc. Good piece to watch.
Q&A with the Filmmaker and Cast – This Q&A features the cast and filmmakers talking about the film. The piece is about 45 minutes long so there’s plenty of information being shared.
Hollywood as a Charater – This piece shows the viewers all the different L.A. shooting locations.
The Artisans Behind The Artist – These are a collection of four featurettes that deal with several different aspects of the film.
The Artist was a beautifully orchestrated film that tells a great touching love story in a time where filmmaking was much simpler. The entire picture is surrounded by great acting, set designs, cinematography, and music, but it does have a few setbacks with the narrative. Overall, I do feel that Michel Hazanavicius achieves to convey his imagination and talent onto the crowd with this film. The Blu-ray offers great video and audio and it is packed with a good amount of supplements. The movie is very enjoyable; however, if silent movies aren’t your thing skip, otherwise I would suggest you pick it for your collection.