So much hype! Surely I would be disappointed. But no! It’s amazingly entertaining and so clever, a really enjoyable film and I can’t wait to see it again. Ginny Waters
“It turns out they do make ’em like they used to. The Artist, the final film to be released in 2011 and also the most heart-swellingly joyful one, is a silent movie, screened in black and white and projected in the old-fashioned boxy Academy ratio, with its occasional lines of dialogue printed on intertitle cards.
It falls into the long tradition of movies about the movies, and centres on an established film star and a beguiling young actress in late Twenties and early Thirties Hollywood, during the rise of the talkies… The Artist begins with a premiere. We’re in a sumptuous Twenties picture palace where movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is screening his latest film, a Douglas Fairbanks-style swashbuckler, to a rapturous reception. Valentin, and by extension Dujardin, is every inch the silent-movie icon: his hair is slick, his eyebrows meticulous, his moustache a horizontal curly bracket, his jawline a perfect trapezium… but The Artist is no pastiche. While Hazanavicius exploits all the most effective conventions of silent cinema, you can’t help but feel he does so only because they’re effective.
A scene in which George sits down to eat with his faithful Jack Russell terrier (played by Uggie, a dog whose IQ seems to be higher than that of most actors of any species) is a sparkling comic routine that wouldn’t be out of place in a Chaplin film — but it entertains because of its wit and timing, not its period accuracy. This film wears its cine-literacy lighter than an ostrich feather, and an audience that knows nothing about the history of film will be just as bowled over by its beauty and wit as anyone else. The film’s final sequence, which legitimately resolves all of the foregoing drama with a dance number, sums up in three minutes everything that cinema is capable of that no other art form can touch.
The Artist might just be moving pictures, but pictures are seldom as moving as this one.”
CERT PG, 100 mins USA 2011
Dir: Michel Hazanavicius; starring Jean Dujardain, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell.