Plot ~ A silent movie actor’s career wains as the ingenue he helped discover becomes a star in talking pictures.
The Artist may be black, white and silent but it is an entirely modern picture; self-referential and played with a stylized yet knowing subtlety.
The too familiar tale combines Singin’ In The Rain with various versions of A Star Is Born yet it jettisons cynicism in favour of pure fantasy and romance. The leads impress with Berenice Bejo stealing her scenes, even from the world’s most famous Jack Russell Terrier! The enchanting sequence in which she imagines an overcoat is her lover summons pure movie magic.
There is a moment when The Artist teeters on the brink of becoming an entirely different and perhaps bolder movie. Silent Era hero George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) experiences sound as a surreal nightmare intruding into his off-screen life. It is a moment in striking contrast to the rest of the film that gives way, perhaps unwisely, to the predictable and indulgently heart-warming.
The Artist is a glorious rose-tinted love letter to the history of film, with nods to everything from Metropolis to Top Hat. It may be old at heart, but in an era of blockbuster excess and unglamourous independent pictures The Artist feels remarkably fresh.
Verdict ~ Pulls it’s punches but deserves its plaudits for shameless good-looks and charm.