Writer/Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Running time: 97 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG
UK Release date: 30th December 2011
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 17th February 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
A film that won 7 BAFTA’s and 5 Oscars (including best film in both); I thought it worthy of a second look when it premiered on TV this week. What follows is more or less the same review that I wrote when I saw the film in the Cinema (about a year ago), with a few tweaks here and there. The fact is, I still feel the same about it, which, I guess, is testament to the filmmakers. Hope you enjoy it!
I must say I was impressed with the film, despite being silent, in black and white and in a 4:3 aspect ratio it still had some great performances and a great story (& that’s the important bit Hollywood!). There is much to admire here and I hope those that have seen it will give me some feedback on their experience of the film. I will give you my thoughts after this brief summary.
George Valentin is a very successful silent film star; adored by his fans, he makes epic adventures with his ever-faithful dog by his side. After the premiere of his latest film in 1927 he literally bumps into a young actress called Peppy Miller. George’s boss, Al Zimmer, is less than pleased when it is her picture on the front of all the papers the following day. Peppy gets a job as an extra at George’s studio and he ends up giving her her first big break. They go their separate ways and she goes from strength to strength. Meanwhile, Al Zimmer wants to embrace the new technology; talking pictures. George does not think it will catch on and is against it. But eventually the studio puts all its efforts into the ‘talkies’ and George is left out in the cold. What follows is his sad decline, but more than one person is looking out for him. I will leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Silent Division) will sneak up and arrest me without making a sound.
Very well made with a beautiful musical score by Ludovic Bource, it really set the tone and held the film together brilliantly. The performances were all excellent, I guess acting in silent films is not an art that’s practiced a lot these days, but everyone did a great job! In particular the leading characters; Jean Dujardin as George Valentin and Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller. Also worthy of note were; John Goodman as Al Zimmer, James Cromwell as Clifton, Penelope Ann Miller as Doris and there’s a brief appearance from Malcolm McDowell as The Butler. Oh, and I mustn’t forget Georges faithful canine Uggie as The Dog.
I found this film a breath of fresh air; it took me back to Saturday morning TV when they used to show the odd silent movie. A simple love story with some great acting and a brilliant musical score really hit the mark. I did find, though, that George’s decline went on a little too long, just when you thought he’d hit bottom there was a little further to go. But that’s the only criticism I have, it’s beautifully made in the style of the time and, although it may not be for everyone. A marginally lower score this time around; I guess it didn’t quite have the same impact it did on the big screen… Still well worth a look though!
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 8.4/10.
IMDb Score: 8.1/10 (based on 108,152 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 89/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 98/100 (based on 218 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 88/100 (based on 48,167 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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George Valentin: With pleasure.
Doris: I'm unhappy.
George Valentin: So are millions of us.
George Valentin: Look at what you've become. You've become proud! You've become stupid!