Just over 7 years ago, I posted my 5th review on this blog. It was the first film I’d reviewed that I was genuinely full of praise for and, as was my style at the time, my post was way too long and rambling. I’d like to think that over the last 7 years I’ve got quite a bit better at writing these things but who actually knows? At the very least, I hope I’ve become a little less hyperbolic and pretentious over time. There are bits of my review that feel a little cringey but it was only due to the fact that I really bloody loved this film. A fact that makes it all the weirder that I haven’t watched it again since. I think I’ve caught bits of it when it’s been on TV but I’ve never actually sat down and watched it from start to finish. And I think it’s because you really need to be invested in the viewing. It’s not as if you can watch it whilst doing something else or if you’re in danger of nodding off. I had to set aside some time today when I had nothing else to do so I could watch it with the focus it deserved. And by “it” I, of course, mean Jean Dujardin’s face.
My main, or only, criticism with The Artist the first time around was the clichéd narrative at the heart of the film. And I think that still stands this time too. It’s not like it’s completely original or unique. But I do think I’ve warmed over the years. It’s a sweet and emotional story. It doesn’t need to be grand and complicated to draw your attention. And The Artist certainly goes out of its way to be as uncomplicated as possible. Despite knowing it was going to happen, the silence still hit me square in the face. I’ve had a bit of film session today to get ahead so it was a bit jarring when the sound I was expecting didn’t occur. It’s quite disorienting. But it’s fantastic.
I hadn’t remember the intertitles being so infrequent the first time around but, on rewatching, I couldn’t help wishing that there’d been a few more. The cast are all great at conveying emotion but sometimes I think a bit of clarity would have made it easier to concentrate on what was going on. Although, again, that is a minor quibble as it is difficult not to get swept up in the massive waves of charm and fun. The musical score does everything that it needs to convey the emotions at play and the fabulous performances of the main cast are pitch perfect.
Let’s be honest, this whole thing is pitch perfect. It is a visually stunning masterpiece that definitely evokes the spirit of the era of silent movies. This film makes the case that films don’t need to be in your face and can be stripped back and still entertaining. It celebrates film past with a deep respect and sense of joy. The Artist is supposed to be about having fun at the cinema and it certainly brings a smile to my face. And it just goes to show that I should start rewatching things more frequently. To think, I wasted 7 years when I could have been watching this on repeat but, instead, I’ve been watching other pieces of shit that give me less joy.