Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register now to see X-Men: First Class!
Empire Blogs
Cannes 2011

Back to all blogs Comment Now

The Artist

Posted on Tuesday May 24, 2011, 15:17 by Damon Wise in Cannes 2011
The Artist

The Artist, to my mind, should have won the Palme D'Or, partly because it would have given the film a big push in all the places that are impervious to the charms of this French-made (but US-set) film's biggest champion, Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein introduced a small market screening I attended in Cannes and revealed that his brother was less than impressed when he reported back that he'd seen a great film that was in black and white and silent – and that he'd bought it (if I remember rightly, Bob made some suggestions about checking into a mental asylum). Once they saw it, though, everyone at the Weinstein Company fell in love with Michel Hazanavicius' enchanting film, and when the final credits rolled it was easy to see why. The Artist surely stands to be the left-field hit of the year, a film with so much personality and charm that 100 minutes – daunting on paper – simply fly by.

This is because Hazanavicius' film isn't simply a faithful homage. Though it does cleave to the conventions of 20s filmmaking, using title cards for dialogue, The Artist features a great orchestral score in place of the usual rinky-dink piano, and the image is pristine – there's no attempt to pass this off as the real thing in any way. It's rather like Hazanavicius' recent OSS movies, a brace of camp James Bond-esque parodies that took France by storm and even found a few admirers in the UK, in that it goes for character comedy rather than satirising genre cliches. And from the OSS movies comes its star: square-jawed leading man Jean Dujardin (pictured), who plays George Valentin, a colossus of the 20s cinema. Dujardin is simply hilarious in the opening scenes, striking ridiculous Rudolph Valentino poses and mugging furiously to the rapturous audiences who flock to his films.

The beginning of the smug but likeable Valentin's end comes by chance, when a fan falls into his arms during an audience mobbing. The press make the most of the photo op, with Variety running a cover story that screams, “WHO'S THAT GIRL?” And as a result, the girl, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), finds her career as an extra taking off, to the extent that when the talkies come in circa 1927, Peppy's singing voice makes her a superstar. George, meanwhile, is clinging to the silent era, funding his own bizarre epic that will take him to the poor house. And while Peppy's rise continues, George refuses to accept it with any good grace, becoming a lonely, poor, bitter, alcoholic and divorced recluse.

The parallels with A Star Is Born are quite evident, and the story does take some dark turns, but Hazanavicius keeps the tone light and his two stars are simply irresistible. Though it may sound a little arthouse, the presence of James Cromwell, John Goodman, Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller should satisfy those in need of a  bit of Hollywood shading, and in the end I think its defiant difference and modest but perfectly realised ambition will make it stand out in a time when the trend is towards getting bigger and bigger and more and more. It's strange but true: the old is the new new.

Coming soon: This Must Be The Place, Oslo August 31, Michael, The Murderer, Walk Away Renee, Le Havre, The Kid With A Bike...


Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (34)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Final report: The Kid With A Bike, Le Havre, Michael, Walk Away Renee, The Murder, Oslo 31 August
By Damon Wise

This Must Be The Place
By Damon Wise

The Artist
By Damon Wise

Drive
By Damon Wise

Cannes Videblogisode #9
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #8
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #7
By Amar Vijay

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
By Amar Vijay

Cannes Videblogisode #6
By Amar Vijay

The Skin I Live In
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Drive
"So it's more of an 80s homage? Judging by the title, as well as the theme, I thought this would be a"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Good 'un!"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"I live my life like I'm in a Carry On film, Megan."  Chris Hewitt
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #8
"My bra just fell off LOL amazing Carry On film vibe there. Have to say though, Chris is scarier when"  megank13
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 6
"★good★ look love--- w w w - jordansforking - c o m   qeedsss
Read comment

Melancholia
"More on this will follow in the magazine later; I met Lars after the banning and heard his views on "  Damon_Wise
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #6
"Heh hee hee hee. So, Chris, twitter profile pic now, right?"  Ethanial
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Is that the young Mike Cimino playing "Neil LaBute?"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
"Fair point usually but in that dress I think we should make an exception for Cheryl"  ErnestWilde
Read comment

Cannes Videblogisode #4
"Aha. Sam informs me that he had to cross the line as his original shooting angle would have ended up"  Chris Hewitt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Cannes 2011: Tree Of Life: First Reaction
13 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #2
8 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #5
7 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #4
5 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #6
3 comments

Cannes In Pictures: Volume 4
3 comments

Cannes 2011: The Tree Of Life
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #1
2 comments

Melancholia
2 comments

Cannes Videblogisode #8
2 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (296)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire Magazine's 300th Issue: Guest-Editted By The World's Greatest Directors!
Spielberg, Abrams, Mann, Whedon, Fincher, Coppola and many, many more!

Video: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann And Kate Upton Talk The Other Woman
Prepare your mind for the concept of 'dog ball plumage'

The Best Barry Norman Anecdotes From His Empire Podcast Interview
From nearly punching Robert De Niro to the real story about ‘And why not?’

Fired! Losing Your Job In The Movies
The lowdown on getting dismissed on film

20 Not So Super '-Men' That Won't Star In A Film Any Time Soon
Forget your Batmen, your Spider-Men and your Ant-Men… Meet 3-D Man (and his pals)

The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)