DIR/WRI: Michel Hazanavicius• PRO: Thomas Langmann • DOP: Guillaume Schiffman • ED: Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius • DES: Laurence Bennett • CAST: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo

A black and white silent movie set in the 1930s with unknown headliners isn’t exactly what modern crowd-pleasers are made of, but this love letter to romance and to cinema itself will win you over with its giant heart. Riding on the coat-tails of universal critical acclaim and Oscar® buzz, it’s not quite as good as critics would have you believe, but it will leave a smile planted on your face as you leave the screen.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) seems to have it all; married to a beautiful woman, he has a huge house,  an awesome dog, and is possibly the most famous actor in the world. While on the set of his latest movie, he meets and falls in love with background extra Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). However, with the arrival of sound, Valentin’s era is swept aside to make way for Miller and her astounding voice.

This silent-to-sound crossover could be a modern metaphor for the digital takeover from 35mm, or the return of 3D, and writer/director Michel Hazanavicius displays his obvious love of cinema throughout, and is peppered with scenes of greatness (Valentin’s nightmare, or an astounding reflection shot in a mirrored table), but overall the movie is far too slight to deserve the level of appreciation it seems to be receiving.

However, the central romance itself is beyond cute, and Valentin and Miller make an adorable duo. Also the set of familiar faces as supporting characters (John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, Ken Davitian), some of whom only show up for one scene, shows just how much Hollywood loves a good story about Hollywood. Which is exactly why it will sweep all the Oscars® this February.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

The Artist is released on 6th January 201

The Artist – Official Website


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