Umm, no thanks. You two go on dancing without me.

Theatrical Release Date: 11/23/2011
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Bitsie Tulloch, Malcolm McDowell,
Rated: PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture.
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes


This tea makes me unhappy.

Get ready sports fans, this may be the most schizophrenic review you’ll ever read. I just want you all to know that ahead of time (No I don’t).

You see, the subject of this review is writer/director Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist”. No doubt, the more dedicated film aficionados already know that this is essentially a silent film, about a silent film star, shot in black & white and set in the late 20′s/early 30′s. With all that in its DNA, there’s no surprise it’s the cat’s meow to many established film critics. What’s not to like? A throwback to a golden age of cinema, it brings back the glamour of Hollywood (back when the sign still read Hollywoodland).

Well, I’m going to open myself up for peer ridicule and go ahead and admit that old movies just don’t do it for me. Born the same year as “Star Wars” and raised on MTV and cheesy 80′s movies, to me sitting through many “classic” films is usually akin to a homework assignment. There’s just something about needing more than a classical score to keep my eyelids from doing that thing … you know, that thing … when they close up and I dream of being a Viking or some such nonsense … that thing.

As such, I approached “The Artist” with some trepidation. My expectations were that it would be well made, brimming with talent … and that I might do that embarrassing thing where you fall asleep and you wake up with a jerk of the head so strong that it may cause whiplash. And so it is with sincere apologies to the film purists of the world that I affirm that for once, expectations met reality.

Hazanavicius has crafted a beautiful film to look at, the actors are all superb, the score is tremendous, he even broke the fourth wall now and again in terms of using sound … and I still nodded off for a few brief seconds here and there. It’s not a reflection on the film; it’s a referendum on the shortening attention spans of our youth (I don’t want to be alone on this).

As a so-called film critic (a title some may strip away from me after this), I recognize the artistry on display here – and no, I didn’t mean to make that pun. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned after over 6 years of writing reviews, it’s that being honest about my perspective is a far better thing than simply toeing the line and spouting the same thing as everyone else because you’re supposed to.

Having made it quite clear than this style of filmmaking is not my personal cup of tea, it still must be said that Hazanavicius’ work on “The Artist” is truly impressive and I’d be remiss in my duties if the film didn’t get a 4 out of 5. Knowing my own limitations for silent movies, for which I still feel shame (No I don’t), whatever misgivings there are about the ability to stay awake through it all is a personal issue and should not be seen as a reflection on the movie itself. If you find sitting through a symphony concert is a good way to take a little siesta, maybe skip this one … but if you miss the golden days of Hollywood and truly appreciate old films, this is a can’t miss. Now I’m off to see if I can find my pills, I miss seeing the world with a singular perspective (Yes we do).

4 out of 5