The Artist (2011) – 3.5/5

Ehh. Decent, if not relatively lifeless film that tries hard to be clever and charming and succeeds in being neither for the most part, though it has its moments. The cinematography is also pretty mediocre, which is surprising considering it doesn’t have very much else to work with. And the soundtrack, though okay, gets annoying after a while, especially at the end when the film **SPOILERS** has the nerve to steal a classic suspense piece from Hitchcock and awkwardly tries to use it to heighten a romantic moment. **END SPOILERS** Blasphemy.

The acting is pretty good here though, especially from the main guy who really has to act his heart out to drive the story forward, and does so with glee. He’s a great comic actor; charming and charismatic and fun to watch, all without uttering a single word. Very impressive. The movie live or dies by his performance, and I think is the only reason it’s been as heralded as it has. He is the movie. And the female love interest is good too, and very beautiful, man. And I never thought I’d be saying this, but what great dancing!

Everyone else for the most part is secondary, though, and not worth mentioning, save James Cromwell who stuck with me for some weird reason. Some actors are better at this whole “no speaking” thing than others, I guess, regardless of how much success they’ve had in the industry thus far. I imagine it’s harder than it looks. Eh.

The biggest issue with the film, though, is the fact that it feels so artificial. There’s a certain hollowness to the whole thing, probably due to the tepid cinematography and cheesy, predictable story. And some of the written dialogue is just stupid. Come on, the stuff’s being projected unto a 50 foot screen, at least make it read somewhat intelligently. But nope.

Overall, it was okay, nothing great, nothing terrible. It has its moments: the dancing was cool, the use of sound at times was clever, save the music, and the performances from the two leads, again, was great, especially that of the main character. But I don’t know, it didn’t appeal to me all that much. The decision to film the whole thing in silence, and in black and white, while ambitious, also keeps you at a distance. You don’t realize just how important it is to hear an actor’s voice until you’re deprived of it for an entire movie. This is especially noticeable at the end when **SPOILERS** you finally hear the main character speak after that great dance sequence. **END SPOILERS** You feel more for him in that one moment then you did for him or anyone else in the previous hour and a half.

And what a clever way to show why he **SPOILERS** was unable to land a job in any “talkies.” **END SPOILERS** It’s the most brilliant part of the movie, wrapping the whole story up in a nice pretty bow. It’s just too bad stuff like it didn’t happen more often. Eh.

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