Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Artist, dir/wr. Michel Hazanavicius, st. Dean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo

I suspect there's a whole swathe of today's younger generation that won't feel compelled to see The Artist, Hazanavicius' faithful reconstruction of a 20's-style silent film. If the idea of comparatively accessible fare like Another Earth or Martha Marcy May Marlene disinterests them when Rihanna's just around the corner in a film called Battleship, what chance does a wordless, single-plotlined romance have? The Artist's form is painstakingly recreated; there's the native 1.33 aspect ratio, scratchy inter titles, a beguilingly simple story, two adorable leads, even each reel seems to have been subtly colour-corrected to simulate individual canister distress. The Academy are clearly chomping at the bit, waiting to lavish awards on it, and as charming as The Artist is, I fear the recognition may be at the expense of worthier films this year. But no matter, their hearts are in the right place and the message is clear: remember what we used to be about before Transformers? Which is why I would make The Artist mandatory viewing before anyone's allowed in a multiplex for the first time. It's a blunt instrument, but think of it like a Cinematic Hazard Perception test. For the film says so much about Stars and their ego, studio systems, unresting movie technology and audiences' mutating desires, ambition, pride, and love, and all without saying a word.