French director Michel Hazanavicius takes a break from his OSS 117
spy spoofs to pay loving tribute to the silent cinema, re-creating its luminous black-and-white photography and consigning all the dialogue to intertitles. The story is a variation on that timeless movieland myth A Star Is Born
: Jean Dujardin plays a Hollywood matinee idol whose career unravels with the advent of the sound era, and Berenice Bejo is a bit player who ascends into the stratosphere once actors become prized for their gab. No big-time commercial filmmaker has tried anything like this since Mel Brooks made his appropriately titled Silent Movie
(1976), but that had a contemporary setting and favored Brooks's vulgar shtick over the physical grace of the silent clowns. By contrast, this 2011 effort often manages to duplicate the magical pantomime of the era; a lovely scene in which Bejo drapes herself in the arms of a hung jacket as if it were a human lover could have come straight out of a Marion Davies picture. With John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller.
See our full review:
See The Kid at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on February 15, The Artist at the Logan Theatre on February 11, and 7th Heaven at St. John Cantius Church on February 26.
The Arbor, The Artist, and Fringe
The Artist tells the tale of a movie star laid low by the sound era