Before I get into detail, let me give you the short version: The Artist is an emotionally tortuous, thought provoking film that's one of the best I've ever seen. Make no mistake, the soundtrack makes this movie. There's a particular scene where the protagonist is haunted by smiles and talking lips, and the music raises to a fever pitch and just flays you as a person. I don't cry often. The Artist almost made me cry. I'm just glad I didn't bring a date.
With that out of the way, allow me to go into detail. More specifically, let me address the initial reactions that occurred after The Artist's release.
"This movie can be easily dissected by any film major."
I've heard and read the above quote a thousand times. Here's my response: + Show Spoiler +
fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you!
Maybe I should elaborate. You're a film major and you know lots of stuff about films, and you can spot every little influence and blatant rip-off The Artist contains. You know who else can? Every single person who's watched a lot of movies. Think you're clever because you can spot similarities between Metropolis and the scenes where George and Peppy are talking on the stairway? Or how, in the film burning scene, George has an uncanny resemblance to Charles Foster Kane after his failed election bid? Congratulations! That's awesome! Please don't try and ruin The Artist because it resembles something else, because it stands alone as a truly amazing film.
It's also a love letter to the movies, in case you didn't understand that.
I usually like MovieBob, but this review is awful. See spoiler above.
"It's trying to be smart."
You mean it's trying to be something it already is?
ANYWAY, with that one minor rant out of the way, let me continue with my actual review.
It's mostly a silent film, which takes about five minutes to get used to. Sound is introduced in a few spots, including a nightmare sequence that has to be a direct nod to Pleasantville. The aesthetic is beautiful. I don't know how accurate the period recreation is (since I'm not a film major), but it's glossy and glamorous and it looks phenomenal.
The story is a real tear jerker. I'm not sure how to describe it without spoiling key moments. The combination of music, images, and incredible acting sucked me in like few movies have. I'm used to a few scenes totally immersing me like this, but not the better part of a near-two hour film. It's probably cliched, stolen, borrowed, or a combination thereof, but you know how I feel about that. You know what's going to happen, but you're powerless to stop it, and the knowledge of what's going to happen doesn't soften the blow when it does come to pass. It's hard to see a likeable character fall from grace.
To sum it up, let me describe one scene. When George's wife leaves him, she says, "I'm unhappy." George looks up at her and replies, "So are millions of us."
It's that kind of film. I could go on and on and on about the symbolism in scenes, but I won't.
The ending is one of my favorites. Peppy basically makes George's world come alive. He was hollow until he accepted her love and affection. The last call for, "silent on the set" really broke the fourth wall, and I feel was a powerful way to end the film.
To conclude: it's heart-wrenching, clever, well written, well acted, and well made.
Oh, and the dog was really cute.