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french films > The Artist
cast: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and John Goodman
director: Michel Hazanavicius
A huge success at Cannes , and already being tipped for glory at the Oscars, ‘The Artist’ is due out in London on 30th December.
A silent film, shot in black & white, it tells the story of the fall from fame of George Valentin (convincingly, and sometimes movingly, played by Jean Dujardin) as the new era of talkies revolutionises the cinema world. Saved by the combination of a beautiful young actress ( Berenice Bejo as the starlet helped on her way by Valentin ), a loyal chauffeur and a scene-stealing Jack Russell terrier, George finds redemption and the strength to go on.
So, cinematic classic or cute novelty ‘one-off’ ?
Undoubtedly, the slower camera, the facial close-ups, and the atmospheric lighting gradually create an atmosphere in which the sub-titles are no longer an irritating distraction. Although the storyline itself is, one assumes deliberately, full of clichéd references to the old silent era movies, the emotional impact of the decline of the Fairbanks/Valentino lead character does come across extremely powerfully. Without the distraction of the high-decibel soundtrack, high-speed action and breathless scene-cutting and editing which are common to so much of today’s cinema, the film forces a focus on character and feeling which many should find different and refreshing.
Certainly worth seeing, certainly an interesting idea extremely well–executed, and will make Hollywood feel good about itself and its golden era, could it be a real Oscar contender? See what you think.
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