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Review: The Artist

 Everybody might be able to relate to searching through the newspaper for a movie that your entire family can watch. I grew up in a pretty liberal household; however I was cautious about which ones I viewed with family. I had no idea what “the Artist” was going to be about. I’d stepped into independent theaters before with my parents, viewing The Secret in Their Eyes, a graphic Argentinean film about a wife who is brutally murdered. Sometimes reviews can be misleading.

However, I relaxed when I saw the black and white captions displayed in the Artist. I’ve often gone back to rewind film such as Sunset Boulevard and L.A. Confidential. These films not only captured the aesthetic for the film industry in Hollywood but they also elaborated on the details that went on behind screenplays; a glimpse which intrigued audiences who craved the entertainment prattle.

The Artist, however, captured not only the behind-the-scenes film takes, but it also seduced the audience into the debonair elegance for which the character “George Valentin” carried himself; a gentle and handsome man, charismatic and enticing. Perhaps this is how he catches the eye of “Peppy Miller”, equal in mystique with a delicate neck line, donning backless “picot-edged tabs” (Unique Vintage, 10/16) with her 1920’s “carwash” hems. The characters Dean JuDardin(George Valentin) and Bernice Bejo (Peppy Miller) capture the screen by their soundless body language, a specialty which present-day actors could use.

I think it was to the producer’s credit that he gave such names to the characters- Valentin signifying a love, “Valentine”, “Peppy” implying a jumpy excitable character. Jaimie N. Christly from the October 16th issue of Slant Magazine wrote that George Valentine’s name was inspired from the roguish and legendary, Rudolph Valentino.

The plot transforms from Valentin’s fame in silent movies towards John Goodman’s need to compete with the industry. Where once Valentin flourished in his sweeps of “amore” to female leads for which he played the opposite, he now faced interference. Peppy Miller, unconventionally carefree bounds onto the movie set spurned on by a forthright sort of virtue. This thus allows her to fly so easily into production houses which are budding with casts suitable for out-loud dialogue.

The film does a wonderful job of using time to explain Valentin’s fall from the silent movie world and Pappy’s rise to its occasion. The plot turns again when Peppy experiences Valentin’s conflictions with his loss of recognition. Drawn into the movie world after Valentin embraces her, a former commonplace extra, Peppy feels a sense of loyalty and pity for the supportive actor. She therefore attempts to purchase all of his estate’s furniture auctioned off after his estate is repossessed.

In the end when Valentin reinvents his role as an actor along with Peppy, the audience has perhaps come to understand the meaning for what the producer was trying to convey all along: perhaps words can say little for how much our actions matter.

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