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The Artist

Silence is golden.

Begone snobs! The Artist is most out-and-out joyous film of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, a valentine to the glories of silent cinema, a triumph of artistic teleportation, pure effervescence that gives crowdpleasing a good name. Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a dashing and rather arrogant actor whose dynamic, swashbuckling roles in films such as A Russian Affair and A German Affair have made him a huge star of the pre-talkie era. But he’s caught off-guard by the arrival of sound: ‘If that’s the future, you can have it!’ His roles dry up, his wife leaves him, and a move into directing – with Tears Of Love (Hazanavicius and screenwriter Jean-Claude Grumberg have great fun naming their fake films) – doesn’t work out. All he has left is his Jack Russell terrier and his memories of the delightfully named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). She’s the all-smiling, high-stepping would-be actress with whom he’d fallen in love even before her career went into overdrive. Now that he’s yesterday’s news, a relic of an abandoned art form, will Peppy still remember him? Does she still carry a flame for him? The Artist is not a film that thinks it’s superior to the movies it evokes. Hazanavicius has evidently immersed himself in the silent period, seeing in it liberation rather than restriction: he’s in love with its melodramatic intensity, its lack of irony, the importance it places on lighting and photography. Cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman, drawing on deathless classics such as Murnau’s City Girl, makes black and white look wonderfully warm rather than austere. Ludovic Bource’s score is charming and amplified by two exquisitely clever breaks in the film’s otherwise complete eschewal of natural sounds. Dujardin and Bejo excel together, reining in any desire to compensate for their lack of dialogue by exaggerating the physicality of their roles. Hazanavicius himself is wise enough not to stuff the screenplay with lots of dialogue just to placate audiences unused to watching silent; the intertitles are kept to a minimum. By the end, it’s all you can do not to cheer on the seemingly star-crossed lovers and not to sigh about how they don’t make films like this anymore. Except, of course, Hazanavicius just has. – Sukhdev Sandhu, The Daily Telegraph Official Trailer
Showtimes: 

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Directed by: 
Michel Hazanavicius
Running Time: 
100
Country(ies): 
France
Language: 
English
Starring: 
Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller
Screenplay by: 
Michel Hazanavicius

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