Surprisingly entertaining and engaging.
Here goes the most talked about movie of 2011. Who would have guessed that in this age of technological superiority and with all the progress of CGI someone would ever invest their money, time, and talent into something so degraded by today’s standarts? It is surprisingly black and white. It is surprisingly silent. It is surprisingly in 4:3 aspect ratio. It is surprisingly 22 fps. It is surprisingly filmed on a film.
Story is probably as old as the movie tries to be anyway. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a big star of a silent era Hollywood. He has EVERYTHING. He is being loved by the audience and studio heads worship him. On the night of premiere of his new movie a young girl bumps into him. This is Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo). As everyone else, she is crazy about Valentin and she wants to be an actress. Valentin notices her and pushes studio head into hiring Miller. Unfortunately, this is the moment when “talkies” are introduced to the society and suddenly Valentin has no more fans – no one needs silent movies anymore.
Essentially film is a struggle of coming to the terms of not being needed anymore. Valentin has nowhere to go. He has been cancelled. And he doesn’t know what else to do with his life. Not because he doesn’t want to or he is not able to physically, but because he just CAN’T do anything except movies. He is the real artist.
Needless to say, acting is exceptional. Dujardin shows great talent expressing his emotions and thoughts without actually making any sound at all. Yes, there are random intertitles. But in general you actually know beforehand what they are going to say.
I didn’t see anything spectacular in performance of the rest of the cast, with the exception of John Goodman, who plays head of the studio. He brings some unique characterization as the boss of the film company who has to deal with spoiled actors and big amount of crew, trying to make everyone happy at the same time.
They say the director Michel Hazanavicius has been dreaming about doing a silent film for quite a while. I always wondered why. But after watching this movie I finally understood why. Its just gives you completely different options, strategies, and challenges. Is it better than regular movies? I don’t think so. It is just another perspective of a great way of storytelling. Unfortunately there’s a certain reason why they don’t make silent, black-and-white movies anymore.
Movie got 10 Oscar nominations this year. I do not want to discuss whether it deserved to get even half of it or whether it would have deserved to get nominated any other year, but I’m just going to say its a good movie. Not great, but good. I’m happy producers found something outstanding (not in the sense of “groundbreaking”, but “standing aside”) in the whole lineup of films produced this year and really promoted it. It would be a shame not to see this movie getting recognition. And that it deserved. For sure.