Film Review: THE ARTIST

Written and Directed by Michel Hazanavisius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller

This is a film impossible to imagine without the face and talent of Jean Dujardin, its lead actor. If anyone can resurrect the type of performance silent actors provided pre-1930, it is he. His face, expressive and soulful, carries the story.

You don’t think a black and white film with almost no sound will be your cup of tea. Think again.

PLOT-Sort of SINGING IN THE RAIN without the songs. George Valentin (Dujardin) is the toast of the town on the cusp of the advent of talkies. As sound is introduced, he refuses to even attempt to make the transition. (And the why revealed at the end is interesting). The lovely actress, Peppy Miller (Bejo) meets him as he is making his last picture. She is modern and born to play the spunky heroine of the first talkies. As Dujardin sinks further into a malaise, she does what she can to revive his career.

This is a lovely film to look at. It uses all the tricks silent films used back then: great scores, great faces, fade-aways, the arfulness of black and white cinematography, a charming dog and butler as sidekicks. I can’t emphasize enough how terrific Dujardin is.

Bejo is a bit miscast. She looks too modern, too toned, to play one of the soft, round-faced types of the era. But that is my only caveat and one that didn’t spoil a very good film. If you love movies, love the look of black and white photography, love the feel of Hollywood circa 1930, this one can’t miss. And even if the plot reminds you a bit too much of Singing in the Rain and A Star is Born, that’s almost the point.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in