The Artist

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
The Artist Movie Poster Image
Loving tribute to silent films has a few tense moments.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 100 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie celebrates friendship/loyalty, old Hollywood, and the magic of the movies, though it also suggests that "progress" is inevitable -- and that some people, especially those who are no longer young or fresh, may be cast aside in the process. Characters eventually learn difficult lessons about being overly proud and turning away help and affection when they're offered.

Positive Role Models & Representations

George starts out full of confidence and cheer (albeit with a tendency to hog the limelight); as his fortunes change, so does his outlook. Frustration and self-pity eventually overwhelm him, but he fights his way out of their shadow and learns that it's not beneath him to accept help and friendship from others. Peppy overall lives up to her name -- she's determined and goal-oriented, but she's also cheerful, loyal, and energetic.

Violence

In one tense/upsetting scene, it appears as though a character is going to commit suicide with a gun (he puts it into his mouth). Also, the movie opens on a mild torture scene (a character is shocked via electricity) that turns out to be part of a film within the film -- as are a few quick fight/chase scenes that follow. Another film-within-a-film sequence shows someone falling victim to quicksand. Also, a car crashes, and a reckless fire gets out of control and causes damage to property and one character.

Sex

Some flirting, longing glances, close dancing, and chaste embraces.

Language

One use of "damn" (on title card); one rude gesture (a character flips someone off).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Very frequent smoking (accurate for the era); mostly cigarettes, but also some cigars. Adult characters also drink (mostly cocktails/hard liquor), sometimes to excess; while drunk, one character has visions and makes a rash, dangerous decision.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Artist -- a black-and-white homage to Hollywood's silent movies of the 1920s -- is nearly silent itself, relying on characters' gestures and expressions, the musical score, and occasional title cards to tell its story of fame, fortune, and friendship. As such, it might not appeal to many kids, but those who really love movies may be drawn in by its references, setting, and old-fashioned celebration of cinema. There are a few tense/violent scenes, including one in which a distraught character puts a gun in his own mouth and another in which a fire gets out of control. You can also expect lots of era-accurate smoking and a fair bit of drinking, including some overindulgence. But there's virtually no language or sexual content, and in the end characters learn important lessons about the value of friendship and humility.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySynchronicity January 2, 2012

Amazing tribute to Hollywood's golden age is, hands down, the best film of 2011! Perfectly appropriate for older kids who love film.

In this age of CGI, 3D and Technicolor landscapes galore, it's quite strange to see a black-and-white movie in a 1:33 aspect ratio (instead of 16:9 widescr... Continue reading
Adult Written byterra100 November 23, 2011

Surprisingly entertaining - a delightful film!

Who would ever think watching a silent film would fill you with more joy and entertainment than anything else playing in theaters? Well, I was surprised to rea... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 26, 2011

Great!

Awesome! It's really something. This movie is very original! Nobody has ever made a silent movie since Mel Brook's "Silent Movie". It also h... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 16, 2012

beautiful movie

I love this movie and watched it for the first time on an airplane. First of all, there was no strong language or sex in the movie. The end scene may upset so... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1927 Hollywood, silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the George Clooney of his era -- charming, handsome, and a huge box office success. Despite the fact that he's married, he's also a bit of a flirt, and when ingenue Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) catches his eye, they share a few tender (though chaste) moments. As Peppy's career gradually takes off, George finds his own wings severely clipped by the advent of talkies; it's out with the old and in with the new, and George is definitively lumped in with the "old." Though his fortunes are far from what they used to be, George tries to stay positive -- but will his pride allow him to accept help when he needs it most?

Is it any good?

THE ARTIST is a movie for people who love movies. It lovingly pays tribute to a glamorous Hollywood that no longer exists, celebrating starry-eyed girls dreaming of red carpet glory, mustachioed matinee idols, and audiences who wholeheartedly buy into the celluloid illusions that flicker in the dark. It touches on some dark themes -- the relentless nature of "progress," the risk of being marginalized by the latest technological achievement, the dangers of excessive pride -- but it's still ultimately an uplifting story about friendship, loyalty, and the power of the movies. And it definitely isn't without humor; director Michel Hazanavicius strategically (and playfully) uses the movie's few non-silent moments to elicit knowing laughs.

While the movie's two stars -- both of whom are delightful -- are French, the supporting cast is filled with faces that will be more familiar for American audiences, from John Goodman as a blustering studio executive to James Cromwell as a loyal chauffeur/valet. The score is excellent, the cinematography lovely (there's a reason directors like to film people smoking in black and white). The Artist may not appeal to kids as much as the similarly themed Singin' in the Rain, which is more upbeat and accessible overall, but for anyone who's passionate about cinema, it's a must-see.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the filmmakers would want to make a silent movie today, when technology is so different. What's the appeal? Would the movie have been as effective if it was about silent movies but not silent itself?

  • Who do you think The Artist is intended to appeal to? How can you tell?

  • How does the fact that the movie is silent impact the way the actors behave on screen? What do you think would have been different if the movie had more dialogue?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas and musicals

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