The Artist | Chicago Reader

The Artist

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.

Credits

Director:

  • Michel Hazanavicius

Cast:

  • Jean Dujardin
  • Berenice Bejo
  • John Goodman
  • James Cromwell
  • Penelope Ann Miller
  • Missi Pyle

Producers:

  • Thomas Langmann
  • Daniel Delume
  • Antoine De Cazotte
  • Richard Middleton

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