Review: The Artist, Hyde Park Picturehouse

Bob Palmer checks out what The Artist is all about


Since it came out last year, The Artist has dazzled critics and viewers alike. It won five Oscars! So formalities aside, I won’t be telling you to watch this because it’s good. I’ll be telling you to because it’s really, really, really bloody good.

Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller

So, let me enlighten you: The Artist follows the dwindling career of silent-movie actor George (Jean Dujardin) and his relationship with rising starlet Peppy (Berenice Bejo), against the glitzy backdrop of the early years of Hollywood. The niche? Not only is it all in black and white, the film is completely silent.

This strangely refreshing tribute to cinema’s yesteryear puts it completely in a field of its own; the cinematography makes the film unrivalled in its period feel, and the absence of sound makes the music speak for itself. What he lacks in pronouncability, director Michel Hazanavicius makes up for in vision – he’s the real artist here, and The Artist truly is best viewed as a work of art.

Jean Dujardin is given the role he was born to play, striking the balance between rubber-faced scamp and charismatic, charming lothario. By the end of the film, all I wanted to do was put on my top hat, grow an Erroll Flynn moustache and tap-dance away. Berenice Bejo puts in an equally sterling performance as a dreamy Hollywood starlet, fluttering eyelashes and cheeky winks had me howling at the moon in frustration.

However, the show was completely stolen by the film’s real star. Sure, only a Jack Russell, but he probably has more talent in his left paw than you have in your entire body. No offense – I dare you to search ‘Uggie on Ellen’ on Youtube and not say the same. Seriously, if it was up to me, this film would be called The Dog.

One thing that surprised me about this film is that, for a silent movie, it didn’t seem dated at all. It was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny; having just enough self-awareness to make the gags work for a modern audience. Whether you’re laughing out loud or shedding a tear, The Artist will make you sure of one thing; the good old days really were as good as they say.