Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie Review: The Artist

And I'm back and everything should be back to normal around here. Well, not quite normal actually, since I have such a large backlog of anime to review I'm going to start posting review on both Monday and Wednesday until when I go back to school around late August (I'm forever behind when it comes to reviewing recent anime and at least this will help me catch up).
In any case, I finally got around to seeing The Artist which has been on my to-view list since last November or so when I first heard about it. I adore the 1920s and it's true that I've only seen one silent film (Metropolis which I rather enjoyed), I hadn't seen any when I first heard about the film, that just made me more curious about it. So, how did the film actually fare then?

The Artist
Summary: George Valentin is a star of 1920s Hollywood silent films, seems to have it all, and is helping a new girl, Peppy Miller, get her foot in the door as well. But with the advent of talking films, and George's steadfast refusal to become involved with them, it soon becomes clear that Peppy with be the bigger star than he is and the film star has to decide if he can adapt or if he'll become obsolete.

The Good: The movie was structured and paced well and even if I found some parts of the movie too over-dramatic for my taste they never felt out of place in the movie (ie, even if I didn't like some scenes they did work and fit in thematically as well). Peppy and George both felt a little flat to me in the end but they both certainly underwent character development (maybe it's because they were never fleshed out beyond "they're an upcoming star/has been") and the movie takes place over enough time to make all of those changes feel believable. 

The Bad: My biggest complaint with the movie was that it was shot like a "talkie" movie, not a silent film and they are rather different things. When I saw Metropolis the actors made good use of body language to convey conversations (and a number of cards when the conversation got too complex for gestures alone). The Artist by comparison had a lot of scenes that were merely people talking and it was impossible to lipread all the conversations, I had a difficult time following what was going on in a number of scenes. I watched the film with a few other people who thought that this was a stylistic choice, to shoot a silent film the way you would shoot a talkie to symbolize how George was clinging to the past and refusing to move on but for me that felt like too much interpretation, to much thinking about the actual set-up of the film to be the case.

The Audio: This entry might seem a bit superfluous, the movie is billed as a silent film after all, but even a silent film isn't completely quite*. There is accompanying music in nearly every scene and the few scenes that had sound in them were used to great effect.

The Visuals: Oddly enough I wasn't as enamored with the sets and clothes as I expected to be (since again, I really like the 1920s style and that was a big draw for me) but regardless all of that worked. The sets looked real, the clothes looked authentic, the hairstyles looked right, overall everything looked right but it just really didn't draw me in.

So in the end I was rather disappointed with the film and didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I hoped, heck I didn't really enjoy it at all by the end. I've been joking that clearly in order to balance out Hugo (which I liked much more than I expected) I was going to come across a film I really wanted to like but didn't. Oh well, onto the next thing!

*something that our rather annoying closed captioning made clear.

1 comment:

  1. I agree I could have also done without the lipreading, since it was mostly a silent film, it would have been better to have more physical and emotional acting. I did like the film though. I enjoyed the concept and I enjoyed watching a silent film, since I don’t think I ever have. I didn’t get the change to watch this on the big screen and rented it at home by suggestion of a Dish coworker. has to be my favorite place to rent movies, it’s convenient and affordable. I loved being able to watch this on my laptop.