It’s 1927, and George Valentin (by Jean Dujardin) is the toast of Hollywoodtown – he’s a suave, swashbuckling, highly popular star of the silent movies and is adored by millions across the world. He and his wife (by Penelope Ann Miller) have an unhappy marriage, but his reputation for the ladies is strong and he gets distracted by a young and ambitious starlet, Peppy Miller (by Berenice Bejo). His most loyal supporter is his butler/chauffer Clifton (by James Cromwell) and his constant companion is his Jack Russell dog. Suddenly, the talkies arrive, but although the studio is very keen, George is dismissive of this new movie “fad”. He continues to make his silent movies, but is devastated to realise that he is no longer up with the times and not only his career, but his entire life takes a turn for the worse, He seems to be washed up – and this is confirmed by his Studio Manager (by John Goodman). Meanwhile, the talkies love Peppy and her career goes from strength to strength, as does George’s love for her … The two eventually find happiness, thanks to the support they get from each other.
This is a silent movie produced in black and white. It is loyal to the style of the silent movies with its mood-setting music and banner speech boards. The physiology and silent characterisation of each role is also beautifully reflective of the past movie era. However, overall it’s just not for me – I found it tedious and far too drawn out (although I understand this is the necessary style for the genre) – even the star dog’s antics weren’t quite enough to save me wishing it would soon be over. As is sometimes the case with movies that have scooped the “Oscar” pool, I can see that there is merit in the work to make this movie, but I would not rave over it. I thought the music score was excellent, the costumes are great and the cinematography was very good. In fact there were several places where I was fully appreciative of the special effects of the camerawork. However, for me – overall, it’s only okay at best.
At the 2012 Academy Awards (Oscar) presentation, this movie won seven: Best Achievement in Costume Design (Mark Bridges), Best Achievement in Directing (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (Ludovic Bource), Best Motion Picture of the Year (Thomas Langmann) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Jean Dujardin). It also received several other awards.
Made 2011: Directed by Michel Hazanavicius