Presented as a silent film with musical accompaniment appropriate to the late 1920s early 1930s, The Artist tells the story of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), silent movie star who is not prepared to accept ‘talkies’. It is the story of a downfall, with Valentin losing everything; his fortune, his wife, his mansion and his self-respect. Luckily for him, before talkies came about, he embraced the career of up-and-coming actress Peppy Miller(Berenice Bejo). Seeing his downfall, she comes to his rescue – and rescues his career.
It is a very, very good film. There is a strong set-up and the plot takes a natural and logical path. Perhaps this is why I didn’t connect strongly with it – there was nothing unexpected or really all that interesting. The performances were fabulous – in particular Dujardun and Bejo as the two main silent movie actors. Hamming it up, even in real life. But for me, it was very much style over substance.
The Artist won Oscars for Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Directing (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Jean Dujardin). It was also nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Art Direction, best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Berenice Bejo) and Best Writing Original Screenplay.