Friday, 27 January 2012

Best Actor 2011: Jean Dujardin in The Artist

Jean Dujardin won his Oscar from his first Oscar nomination for portraying George Valentine in The Artist.

The Artist depicts the fall of a silent star and the rise of a talkie star.

Jean Dujardin is the first actor since Lewis Stone in the Patriot to be nominated for a silent film, and if he were to win he would be the first winner of that sort since Emil Jannings's double win. Jean Dujardin has apparently reminded many people of silent stars like Douglas Fairbanks for example. I actually must disagree and say he actually reminded most of relatively early sound star Fredric March, and George  Valentine after all shares many similarities with Fredric March's character in A Star is Born, they are both originally popular romantic leading men and are eclipsed by a woman they helped get her start, and they both fall into an alcoholic despair over their loss of stardom although the eventual fates are considerably different although they come close to being the same.

For some reason I always felt Dujardin felt to me more like an early sound star than a truly silent star only because I suppose many silent stars tended to overact a lot, they weren't all Emil Jannings after all, and to me he gives a performance Fredric March sort of gives if you turn off the sound in their films, after all I just find that both Dujardin's and March's face of distress is exactly the same. Anyway though it is really better than Dujardin portrays the part in this manner rather than replicating some of the more dated aspects of the silent period, instead he finds a way to make the essence of the best qualities of old Hollywood.

In the first section of the film when George Valentine is still the great star Dujardin is just a ball of energy. He is about as charming as one could possibly be with the simple joy he shows in every moment as he performs. His smile is about as wide as a smile can be and he just is a bright spot on screen perfectly capturing the sort of charisma of a star of that period without ever making it feel like he is trying to merely imitate one of those stars either. He simply becomes the star which is an outstanding achievement to behold, and it is an essential element for the film itself.

After his fall from stardom which happens rather quickly George Valentine falls in despair. Dujardin excels in this part of his performance just as well as he did when George Valentine was on top, and actually Dujardin perfectly brings out the sadness in Valentine with performance by showing just what a difference there is between his happiness and sadness. It is true that Dujardin change is rather abrupt but it is entirely fitting since George Valentine's fall from stardom happens almost overnight.

Dujardin is extremely effective in his portrayal of the fallen Valentine who never falls in delusions like say Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd, instead he falls into deep despair over his loss. Dujardin is terrific in showing the slowly intensifying despair in his performance, and although silently he perfectly conveys everything that is going through George over every that he lost. There is a great intensity to Dujardin in these moments that brings to life just how troubled George Valentine has become, and he Dujardin effectively works toward the final climax of George's despair exceedingly well.

Dujardin throughout this film gives a compelling and entertaining performance that is easy to follow throughout  George Valentine's tribulations. I must say interestingly enough the part of his performance that I was at all disappointed by was, and this is a spoiler, when he finally does say his single line. The only reason is his single line is with his native french accent and I was perhaps a bit disappointed by this. Not that Dujardin says incorrectly or anything I just don't think the french accent fit the star he was the rest of the time, he just does not look like the successful sound french actors in type like Maurice Chevalier or Charles Boyer, he looks like Fredric March. This is really beyond even a nitpick though.

The artist is a film that really could have been either made or broken by its lead performance. Frankly it would have easy for the actor in this role to have just seemed like some sort of cheap imitation of an actor of the period the film depicts. Dujardin's magnificent performance though completely meets and overcomes all the obstacles of the part.  He simply is a star in this film he never lets you question it from a moment, and the idea that this is an entirely silent performance never matters for a moment. Dujardin brings just as much in fact far emotional power and even charm in his performance than many performances that never stop talking. Dujardin's work here is a truly unique achievement.

12 comments:

RatedRStar said...

is it wrong to say I found him adorable and lovely =D xxxx.

RatedRStar said...

I think ull give him second since Oldman was flawless to you =)

dshultz said...

Well, I liked his last line, when he actually spoke. I thought it was a terrific tongue in cheek little moment, and I never saw it coming.

Anyways........ I am SOOOOOO glad you loved him too! Of the Academy's nominess, in my opinion, only he and Gary (possibly Bichir, still considering him) even deserve to be on the list, they're so great!

Him or Gary!

By the way, have you seen take shelter? Because Michael Shannon was terrific in it!

Anonymous said...

Yes! He was just brilliant! A perfect performance that really deserves to win the Oscar!

dinasztie said...

I think he can win the Oscar. I can't wait to see him and the movie. Do you think it will deserve Best Picture?

mrripley said...

I think he'll be one of those adrien brody type winners completely beating the favourites.

RatedRStar said...

I agree with mrripley and dinasztie =D

Louis Morgan said...

dshultz: I have yet to see Shannon.

dinastzie: Out of the nominees I have seen it is my favorite, and would be a deserving winner.

mrripley: Hopefully he can stop Clooney since Dujardin would be a great winner.

Sage Slowdive said...

He is totally deserving if he wins!

Don said...

SPOLIER, but if you read the article, you already know. - I thought his last line being in his native accent was brilliant BECAUSE it was not how you spent the entire film imagining his voice to sound like. You expect to hear Cary Grant and then you realize Valentine wasn't being stubborn or too stuck on himself to act in a talkie, he was depressed because he was being a realist and the audiences going to the new talkie would have the same disappointing reaction that you did. Those two words in the french accent make the movie.

Louis Morgan said...

I say he was being stubborn just because he believed being a silent star was the only real way to be silent. After all there were both Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer to prove there were successful actors who had french accents.

Anonymous said...

I think his line was a 'reveal'.

In those days many silent actors could not move across to talkies because they did not have the right voice.

Although some of the audience may know that Dujardin is French with a French accent, let's assume we don't.

The way Valentine comes across, there is no reason to think that he is not American. However he is not apparently sound tested for talkies throughout the film. Surely an omission? Someone of his stardom must have done a done this, unless there was an obvious reason to the other characters in the film, but not so to a silent film's audience.

Yes, maybe he just couldn't face talkies in general, hence the narrative, but as I said, I think it was explained by his French accent at the end, which would explain his trauma throughout.