After the Zohan DVD got wonky 50 minutes into the movie, the waiting lounge’s receptionist had to pop in a new disc for everyone’s (actually, I was the only one around in the waiting lounge) viewing pleasure.
Press play The Artist.
I wasn’t sure if I was ready to watch the most talked-about film leading to the Oscars, but my butt was stuck to where I was seated which was right across the flat screen TV and I failed to convince myself to move out of the seat hence ended up watching the contemporary silent film.
The fact that it was a silent film in black and white didn’t turn me off as most “kids” my age were feeling about it since I grew up seeing clips of silent black and white movies by way of Charlie Chaplin and Mickey Mouse (as to how I did, I do not remember). And the last film I got invested in was 1957’s 12 Angry Men and the fact that I’m not huge on CGI, it was easy to muster enough energy for this.
The first scene made me feel like as if I was watching a legit silent film from the AFI archives. I’m not sure if it felt cool or if it felt eerie. Maybe both.
I had no clue what I was up for until I recognized John Goodman(he slimmed down!) and hearing that this won under the comedy category I thought I must be in for some laughs. Boy was I wrong! I barely laughed and I broke down 3 times! In an office waiting lounge!
So onto the film.
I can divide the film into two parts. First part was all about how the film introduces the conflict(upto the part where John Goodman’s character tells George Valentin, a celebrated silent actor, that talkies was the future of film) while the second part was all about stitching cliches(starts when George Valentin says he’s not having any of that “future”). From that point on I knew where the story was headed and was eager to spot parts that I had predicted (I predicted Uggy the dog being pawned off so Mr. Valentin can buy another bottle of liquor which never happened thank God or else my breakdown-and-cry count for this film would have been 4).
Using the word “cliche” to describe the 2nd half might make the movie sound less appealing to whoever is reading this but this is actually the part where all the impeccable acting chops come out. Just zoom into Jean Du Jardin’s eyes for most part of the film and you’ll still get pierced by the emotion he was conveying. He was that impeccable.
I’ve to give props to Penelope Ann Miller who played Doris the protagonist’s wife. Although her scenes were short, her series of subtle and authentic 1920s depiction of marital disappointment made me feel for her. A clap-worthy scene was when her character could no longer fathom the feeling of being forsaken, she throws a fit and a newspaper to hit Uggy and was accurately horrified after realizing what she just had done. I went from an Uggy fangirl to #teamDoris. I understood her. I empathized with her.
And how can you not go awwwwww for Clifton the chauffeur? Yeah, ’cause that’s all what I really did everytime he came out.
It’s not a complicated story with twists you can’t wait to come your way nor is it visually ground breaking that could all potentially lead to a cinematic orgasm(say whut?). And although there were times when I found some confused acting, whether to be authentic to the era or act as is, where is(as Filipino actress Eugene Domingo puts it in Ang Babae sa Septic Tank and yes I’m talking about you Ms. Bejo), The Artist is a definite actor’s showcase with a clear handling of a conflict we can all relate to at some point in our lives. Simply put, it is a pleasurable film to watch that pays homage to the lost craft.