I was skeptical about The Artist because it’s a silent film and I’m not going to be pretentious and pretend I love silent film. Secondly, all the critics and Hollywood were gushing about how great it is which immediately made me suspicious.

This is one of those times when the reality equals the hype. The Artist is so full of life and sparkle that it won me over from the very start. It will do the same to you. It’s obvious director Michel Hazanavicius has a fully realized picture of the story, time and place he has imagined and the mastery to bring the world he envisions to life.

Jean Dujardin is George Valentin a big silent film star with an ego to match and charisma to spare. Enter Bérénice Bejo as the perky Peppy Miller, an aspiring young actress who ingratiates herself with the press and the star during a Valentin photo op at a film premiere.

The two meet again when Peppy lands a small role as a dancer on Valentin’s next film. When studio head Al Zimmer (John Goodman) recognizes her as the scene-stealer from the premiere he fires her but Valentin insists she stay in the picture. Soon Peppy’s career is on the rise and she and Valentin are clearly captivated by each other.

As often happens in Hollywood as one star rises another falls. The Artist weaves the stories of Valentin’s decline and Peppy’s ascendance alongside that of the profound change that the advent of sound brought to the film industry.

Hazanavicious has perfectly chosen his leading man and lady. Bejo pops on screen as the vivacious Peppy Miller who becomes a movie sensation. Dujardin has the appeal of a Cary Grant as the stubborn and proud Valentin who foolishly and in van fights the inevitable shift to talking pictures. The pair is so expressive and natural that you forget there is no dialogue being exchanged between the two. Not one to be left behind, Uggie the dog almost steals the show as Valentin’s loyal best friend, not an easy task when you have two leads as charming and likeable as Dujardin and Bejo.

The film is in black and white but the cinematography is so crisp, evocative and rich that you don’t notice the absence of color. The art and costume design are equally outstanding and complete the effect of creating a three dimensional landscape more real than any in an actual 3-D movie.

Every element of The Artist comes together seamlessly to create a vivid portrait of a world and time gone by. A world the director not only knows intimately but also clearly admires. At a time when so many movies feel like the equivalent of the slap dash emails people carelessly send each other, The Artist evokes a beautifully handwritten love letter of a film delivered on fine and delicate stationery.

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