DVD review: The Artist (PG) 96 minutes, Entertainment In Video, comedy/drama/romance **** (From York Press)
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DVD review: The Artist (PG) 96 minutes, Entertainment In Video, comedy/drama/romance ****
SILENCE is golden indeed. Look at all those Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs for French director Michel Hazanavicius’s charming portrayal of love and corrosive pride at the sunset of Hollywood’s silent-movie era and the dawning of the talking motion picture.
The most-awaited DVD release of the year has finally arrived, providing another chance to savour Jean Dujardin’s Academy Award-winning turn as pencil-moustached movie icon George Valentin (Dujardin).
Valentin’s day is over when the advent of the talkies signals the final curtain for the silent age, plunging his gilded name into oblivion in 1927 Hollywood.
To make matters worse, the ingénue he helped make into a star (Berenice Bejo’s irresistibly beautiful Peppy Miller) is on the cusp of becoming the It Girl of the new film generation.
Never mind that the smitten Valentin had dabbed the beauty spot on her face that would become her trademark. Cigar-chomping studio boss Zimmer (John Goodman) has eyes only for Peppy now, leaving Valentin and his loyal manservant Clifton (James Cromwell) on a seemingly inexorable downward spiral, and yet Valentin and Miller’s destinies remain entwined.
Shot in the manner of a vintage silent film, with dialogue only at the denouement, The Artist is a love letter to cinema’s first golden age that is too sharp, imaginative, romantic and fabulously French witted to be a mere homage.
Debonair Dujardin and the divine Miss Bejo are a dream screen couple: call it chemistry, call it biology, call it French fragrance, it works in any silent language. Hazanavicius’s appropriation of cinema’s past is the most beguiling since Woody Allen’s wistful, whimsical hymn to Thirties’ films in 1985’s The Purple Rose Of Cairo.
As for Valentin’s dogged Jack Russell, no wonder this scene-stealing mutt by the name of Uggie was the subject of a campaign to receive a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.