Monday, December 19, 2011


The Artist is a witty, splendid homage to silent film era

You can't say French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius lacks the courage of his convictions. When he set out to make a movie paying homage to Hollywood's silent era, not only did he film in vintage black-and-white, he dared to shoot the entire movie without audible dialogue, relying only on the occasional tile card, music, and the actors' expressiveness to tell the story. The splendid result is The Artist, in which Hazanvicius wields the classic storytelling tools of the silent film era with fresh new exuberance. It may look and feel vintage, but don't be fooled: The Artist is one of the most original movies of the year.

Set in Hollywood, the story revolves around silent film star George Valentin, played with verve and brio by the wonderful French actor Jean Dujardin. As comfortable onscreen wearing a tuxedo as he is wielding a swashbuckler's sword, or flying a spy plane,George enjoys Douglas Fairbanks-style popularity in 1927 Hollywood. But the new phenomenon of talking pictures will soon make George seem antiquated to a public hungry for the innovation of sound.

It's a starmaking performance for Dujardin, who was previously known as a comic actor in a series of French spy spoofs. He owes as much to Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain (which covered the same period of Hollywood history) as he does to Fairbanks, with his megawatt smile and effortless athletic grace.

But don't take my word for it. Take a look at this fabulous trailer right now. In the meantime, give yourself an early Christmas treat and make plans to see The Artist on the big screen at the Nick, when it opens on Friday.

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