A group of art historians are brought into the army to save artwork that Hitler has had collected and plans to destroy if he loses power.
That is an interesting story in itself. Yet, watching the trailers, it looked terrible to me. It seemed very lighthearted and possibly too funny. IT didn’t matter that there is an excellent cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban. Or that it was directed by Clooney. It just looked average. But I went.
I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not a total hard-hitting war film. The humour was good and not too much of it, and it was nicely balanced with some heart wrenching moments. I believe it is not true to the original story, but it is not a documentary. I’m happy to forgive that. I’m happy to have just enjoyed it for what it was.
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.
Advertising – does it get more evil than that? Actually, if you want to look into the evils of the advertising industry, watch The Gruen Transfer. It’s cool for that. This film is good for beautiful scenery, nifty graphics and, at times, animations, and then a crappy ending that feels very convenient (with a hint of Wayne’s World).
Octave Parango (Jean Dujardin) is an advertising creative. At the top of his field, he spends his days taking drugs, creating campaigns for people he has no respect for and being very cool (and smug). However, after a love affair turns sour, Octave becomes lost. He hates his life and everything in it, and this all becomes focused on the campaign he is creating for a yoghurt company. He decides to show the world the processes that go on behind the advertising campaign.
For me, the pacing of this film was off. The part which was really the most interesting was what he wanted to do; creating an alternative ad to bring down the world of advertising. Yet this only happened in the last fifteen minutes or so. Most of the film was taken up with showing his life, from his pain at the break-up through all of the excesses of money and drugs and to his disregard for pretty much anyone around him. This was fine, but what about his revolution? Why shove it down the end? And then, there was almost nothing on what happened in response to his actions.
It’s a beautiful film to watch, but just missed the mark.