Silent But Deadly – The Artist

I tend to like movies better when I see them in a theater. There are no distractions to occupy me from paying attention to what is on the screen. And if ever there was a movie that needed to be seen in a  theater it is The Artist. A silent (with a couple crucial exceptions) black and white movie can not compete with the noisy excitement of a phone ringing or a roommate talking to you or a hankering to see what the score is of a game, but in a dark, quiet theater The Artist is a captivating piece of entertainment. 

Film schools often teach their pupils that a true cinematic storyteller will be able to get the point across in their movie even with the volume down. The makers behind The Artist take this homework assignment seriously. They pipe in roaring twenties Ragtime music  and insert between some frames cards of written dialogue (which in the end become unnecessary because over the course of the movie you become adept at reading lips), but for the most part the movie lets the images do the talking.

The Artist is a love story about a silent film star named George Valentin who feels irrelevant with these new “Talkie” pictures invading Hollywood. Young ingenue Peppy Miller is a new breed of star who actually speaks in her movies. She never would have made it in show business if it wasn’t for George and she doesn’t forget it. She does everything she can to help him out, but he’s too proud to accept it.

It’s a simple tale, a cheesy one, but I liked it so much I guess I’ve got to accept I’m simple and cheesy too. You could show this movie to your grandfather or your granddaughter. You could even get in your time machine and show it to an audience back in 1928 or forward to 2028  and I think they’d all be laughing and wiping stray tears at the same moments. If you’re going to see one movie in the theater this year go see the Artist, because I promise you if you wait to see it at home on DVD you will be so bored by the silence I will lose any and all credibility.

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