Artist, The
PG-13
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +3

Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle. Drama. Written & directed by Michel Hazanavicius.

This five-time Oscar winner is being re-released to theaters on May 11, 2012. A great movie should be experienced in the theater. If you missed it, here’s one more chance to see one of the best films of last year.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Hollywood 1927: George Valentin is a very successful silent movie star; the arrival of talking pictures will mark the end of his career; Peppy Miller, a young woman extra, becomes a major movie star; their lives intertwine and both find meaning – and love. Done as a silent film, The Artist is both unique and familiar.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Although a couple of the best pictures from this past year relied on humanity to further the story rather than CGI effects, mostly this year’s best offerings stand out for their technical achievements or simply their look (set and art design, cinematography, editing, etc.). The Artist is an exception. Perhaps a bit old-time melodramatic for some, I found it charming (I’m a film critic, I can use that word), touching and completely – I say, completely involving.

Reflecting so much that makes up the human psyche, including pride, passion and compassion, The Artist reminds moviegoers of the omnipotence of film imagery. At one point, a person in the depths of depression considers suicide. His dog intervenes. That’s right, his dog. (As I have said before, I love dogs, one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.) The image of that animal tugging on the pant leg of his despondent master should bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened of cynics. The film also makes a powerful point – when life seems darkest, the next day can offer hope and light.

Mimicking the mood of a more innocent time (at least in the world of make-believe), I was reminded of the lyric from an old-time song, “Everything old is new again.” French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius finds what is missing in this CGI/special effects/Star Wars/superhero actioneer decade. I speak of heart, of soul, of the need to reach out to our fellowmen, not dominate them.

Mr. Hazanavicius has perfectly cast his film, from smaller roles filled by pros who know how to use their faces, to the two leads, Jean Dujardin (a combo of Gene Kelly and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., with hint of Errol Flynn’s roguish smile), and Berenice Bejo (lovely) as his love interest. Indeed, after viewing this one, you’ll understand the line from the old Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard, “We didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.”

I’m kind of careful about recommending movies. Most are made from a secular perspective and no matter how uplifting the theme, there’s always going to be something that someone can object to. But this is an imaginative film, compelling and resonate. So, if I were to recommend a film from this year it would be The Artist. Oh, and War Horse. And The Tree of Life. (I’m just saying.)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Towards the beginning of the film, a woman uses a crude gesture and though you can hear her, it looks as if she says a couple of rough words –this is played for humor and I didn’t see – or hear- any other offenses.
Profanity: None
Violence: A distraught man considers suicide by placing a gun to his mouth, this scene is unsuitable for children; although I don’t want to give anything away, there’s a happy ending.
Sexual Intercourse: None; a bad marriage finally ends, but no adultery is seen.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: Nonev
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: At his lowest time, the man drinks to excess.
Other: None
Running Time: 110 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Up

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