Study Guide

The Artist Doris Valentin (Penelope Ann Miller)

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Doris Valentin (Penelope Ann Miller)

The film isn't exactly fair to George's wife, Doris Valentin, who comes off as chilly and sour as a tall glass of unsweetened lemonade.

But you'd probably be just as bitter as Doris if you had to live with at-the-height-of-his-fame George Valentin. After all, she spends day after day with a self-obsessed man who has a better relationship with his dog than his wife and who refuses to talk about his problems. Ick.

In fact, Doris is actually the first person in the film to ask George the question we all want to ask:

DORIS: We have to talk, George. Why do you refuse to talk?

She channels her frustration with his lack of communication into her mustache-drawing skills—perhaps she feels that by defacing his promo photos, she's taking his vanity down a notch.

At first Doris, who's cold and un-smiling, seems like the opposite of positive, warm Peppy. But it's hard not to imagine that Doris was once in Peppy's position—a young starlet and the apple of George's eye—and that the harsh realities of marrying a egotistic celeb like George have taken a toll on her good humor.

Doris represents the less attractive side of George. She's the first clue that he's not the perfect man he appears to be and, in fact, has trouble seeing beyond himself.

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