Speechless

This is my review of The Artist [DVD].

Entirely in black and white, and largely without speech, this modern film made in the style of a silent movie is a clever and entertaining take on the effect of the arrival of the "talkies" on "George Valentin", the over-confident established star of Hollywood silent films of the 1920s. Just as these did, it relies heavily on appropriate musical scores – at one point we see an orchestra playing just below the screen, as a rapt audience watches the wordless drama.

It made me realise how much can be conveyed simply by facial expressions and body language, although all movements need to be slightly larger than life.

As we watch George disintegrating, forced to observe the mercurial rise of the vivacious, yet kindhearted Peppy Miller, and to realise too late that he has made a fatal mistake in laughing at talking films, we expect a happy ending, at least of a sort. However, there are also many humorous touches, striking visual effects, such as when George watches himself on film from behind the screen, or is sucked down very symbolically into filmic quicksand, and there are even some genuinely moving moments on the way, assisted by the best actor of them all, George's performing dog. As someone quips, if only he could talk!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars

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