“The Artist” brings something to your movie experience which goes deeper than just an enveloping sense of enjoyment from a well-made film.
If you look at the global box office revenue for the most successful movies of all time, you will find a lot of famous blockbusters in that list that everyone has something to say about. Something like, “Oh, yeah…” or “Yes, I saw that one!” Of course they included a terrific amount of hard work from very many people, and there was definitely something about them if people paid to see them. But from the point of view of a simple, yet opinionated movie-goer, they are all somewhat too imposing. It’s almost like they squash you with their sheer box-officeness and force you to think this just absolutely has to be something mind-blowing. Whereas you might feel like you would just like to be left alone. Possibly you might also be wishing you had spent your money on seeing another film.
It was different with “The Artist”, somehow. True, there’s plenty of hype and press coverage in this case as well. But somehow it’s not making you feel like it’s overhyped. Because once you see it, you might think it deserves all the coverage and accolades it’s getting. If you want to, you will like it. If not, you can hopefully still walk away without feeling like you’ve wasted your time. What I definitely agree with is Rolling Stone magazine’s description of Bérénice Bejo’s performance as “dazzling”. Mostly because that’s the word that settled in my mind once I had seen the movie. I am a simple movie-goer, but an opinionated one. And my opinion was that she had charmed me with her palpable vivacity and freshness. But so did Uggie the dog!
What was extremely refreshing about the movie was also its non-cliché take on the expected love story line. In short, “The Artist” was satisfyingly playful without being insipid, serious without being too dramatic, and wistful without being soppy.
And you know what else? Silent movies seem to make for a much quieter audience. You almost forget someone else is there in the theatre with you. It must be that old magic.