There are films that make you cry, there are those that make you question and then there’s some that make you remember why you love movies. That Cinema Paradiso moment when sitting wide eyed in front of the big screen, moves a part of you within.
You don’t have to go to film school to appreciate this one- The Artist takes you back into a silent era where films were screened with live orchestras and people dressed in their finest to be entertained.
Welcome to the 1920s- our strong silent hero George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the peak of this career when he meets the young Pepper Miller, (Berenice Bejo) who happens to be his biggest fan- wanting a break in ‘Hollywoodland’.
As her story takes off, his begins to crash. Refusing to participate in the advent of the Talkies, he finds himself alienated from studio bosses and an audience that once loved him.
While the actress goes on to become a big star, he deteriorates into depression, losing everything he owns, save his Jack Russell terrier (Uggy). The film is a celebration of love- between man, woman, even dog- all bound by their love for cinema
Should you watch it? I chose to take my mother for this movie (despite cries of ‘but its silent! And black/white!’) , you can dare to take yours. I am happy to report that she came out a happy beagle, much like others in the choc-o-block movie hall on a Sunday evening.
Even the Hindi-movies-loving-song-and-dance oriented will shake a leg when George swings into musical films, or laugh out loud at a hilarious nightmare when he finds himself unable to make a sound while the rest of the world is screeching.
The music reminds you of what you may have heard on your grandfather’s gramophone (music without words, for those who never encountered that) With its exaggerated expressions that remind you of Doordarshan’s Mahabharat days and superb cinematography which marries rustic style to sophistication, The Artist is a technical and a narrative delight : a simple story, simply told that leaves you breathless yet satisfied.
Clearly, the filmmakers have a clear message – Cut the crap, this is the real deal. Come back to real cinema – the one that makes you cry, the one that makes you question. But more importantly the one that reminds you that you love movies.