Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Artist

The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius's earnest romantic comedy set in 1920's Hollywood, is as ridiculously charming as everyone says. Shot in black & white, using intertitles instead of spoken dialogue, & running at a slightly sped-up frame rate, the movie affectionately mimics a silent era film, though it would never be mistaken for one. Jean Dujardin possesses all the joyful charisma of Douglas Fairbanks & plays a silent movie star undone by the transition to sound. Bérénice Bejo, with her large facial features, also looks like she belongs to the silent era & plays a spunky, rising actress reminiscent of Clara Bow. An early scene where the 2 fall in love during multiple takes of a dance sequence is both delightful & efficient. John Goodman is perfectly cast as the cigar-chomping studio head, & there's even an adorable acting dog named Uggie. Though the story has an old-fashioned innocence, the film plays with its own conventions just enough to give it a modern spin. It certainly appealed to the retirement-age audience I was surrounded by when I saw it. I left feeling happily lighthearted. I'd see it again just to find out if it works that spell a 2nd time around.

§ The Artist (2011)
100 min, France, Belgium
Director, Michel Hazanavicius

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