Parents should be aware that The Artist, a black-and-white homage to Hollywood’s silent films of the 1920s, is essentially quiet throughout, telling its tale of fame, money, and friendship through character gestures and emotions, the musical score, and sporadic title cards. As a result, it might not appeal to many children, but those who truly enjoy movies might be intrigued by its allusions, atmosphere, and vintage celebration of film.
A handful of the situations are frightening or violent, such as one where a character who is upset puts a gun in his mouth and another where a fire spreads out of control. Expect plenty of period-appropriate smoking and moderate amounts of drinking, including some overindulgence.
George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent film star in 1927 Hollywood, is the George Clooney of his time: affable, attractive, and a tremendous box office success. He is a bit of a flirt, despite the fact that he is married, and when naive Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) catches his eye, they share a few romantic (albeit chaste) moments.
It’s out with the old and in with the new, and George is unquestionably lumped in with the “old.” Though his fortunes are far from what they used to be, George tries to stay positive — but will his pride allow him to accept help when he needs it the most? As Peppy’s career gradually takes off, George finds his own wings severely clipped by the advent of talkies; it’s out with the old and in with the new, and George is definitively lumped in.
The film THE ARTIST is intended for movie buffs. It honors starry-eyed ladies who dream of red carpet fame, mustachioed matinee stars, and audiences that completely believe the celluloid illusions that flash in the dark. This dazzling Hollywood that no longer exists is lovingly paid tribute to.
Although it touches on some somber subjects—such as the relentless nature of “development,” the fear of being left behind by the newest technical advancement, and the perils of excessive pride—it is ultimately a happy tale about friendship, loyalty, and the influence of cinema. The film’s director, Michel Hazanavicius, cleverly (and jokingly) makes use of the rare moments that aren’t silent to elicit knowing laughter.
While the film’s two wonderful leads are French, the supporting ensemble is full of actors who will be more recognizable to American viewers, including John Goodman as a brash studio executive and James Cromwell as a devoted chauffeur/valet.
There’s a reason why filmmakers want to capture images of people smoking in black and white: the tune is terrific and the photography is gorgeous. The Artist might not be as kid-friendly as the similarly subject Singin’ in the Rain, which is more joyful and approachable overall, but it’s a must-see for anyone who loves movies.