Film: The Artist
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo

In a year filled with stunning cinematic achievements, the one film you truly need to see is faithfully rooted in Hollywood’s glorious past. The Artist, a new silent film directed by Michel Hazanavicius, was made with such profound respect and devotion to rise of cinema that most will not be able to differentiate it from the reels that held Alan Crosland’s The Jazz Singer. It is not for everyone, but the true devotees to the silver screen need look no further for this season’s best pick.

Filmed in America, but still very much a French Production, The Artist follows a famous 1927 silent film actor named George Valentin who must face the changing of the times as the rise of talkies comes barreling into theaters across the country. Portrayed stunningly by Jean Dujardin, Valentin refuses to open his mouth for audiences, believing the idea to be a passing fad, and chooses to stick to his proverbial guns as the world moves forward without him. Along the way, Valentin meets Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo),a woman he both loves and hates as she embodies the unstoppable change of Hollywood that will eventually displace our beloved star. It is a tale rooted in stories from the golden age of cinema, and it still sizzles on screen today.

Many will likely first turn to the way The Artist is shot or acted as cause for praise, and by all means that is a phenomenal aspect deserving of applause, but it is the tale of love, death, and extinction that serves as the film’s blueprint that is the true standout. Miller and Valentin feel like characters you are already familiar with, their love as classic as posters that harken back to that era, and their moments of distress and longing make your heart ache with love’s bitter chill. Coupled with this is Valentin’s ongoing inner-struggle between his pride and the ever-changing way of the world. Both stories take a toll on the other, often causing more problems than solutions for our hero, but the end is more than worth than journey.

Call it an homage to the good ol’ days or a modern take on a classic style, either way, The Artist is an achievement in filmmaking like no other in recent memory. The love for cinema poured into each and every frame in undeniable and the performances are second-to-none. Michel Hazanavicius has gifted the world what we never knew we wanted and I am already at the edge of my seat in excitement for where he will take us next. Take a break from the norm this season and experience what true Hollywood magic feels like, especially while you can see it on the big screen. It will be a long time, if ever, before another one of these comes along.

Review written by: James Shotwell (Follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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