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Artist, The

Director:  Michel Hazanavicius
Year Released:  2011
Rating:  2.0

Silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) - who helps up-and-comer Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) get her start - soon finds himself without a job or fame, as the talkies come into vogue and he remains obstinate in his refusal to bow to new technology. Basically a gimmick movie - it's in black and white and contains no dialogue (that is, until the very end) - that pretends to be nostalgic but actually comes across as somewhat disingenuous, mimicking without ever really being an admirable work in its own right. Dujardin's fall from grace carries no emotional weight because he never registers as a real person - his loyal pup that follows him everywhere comes across as being a more genuine performer. When I recommend to some people many of the great silents - by Murnau or Gance (to name but two of countless brilliant filmmakers) - they refuse to watch them, claiming that they don't want to see a movie in which you "only see lips moving." But the silents had a distinctive language all their own that employed a different form of acting - Emil Jannings' tormented bathroom attendant in The Last Laugh still haunts me - while this merely scratches the surface of a lost but artistically rich era of cinema.

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