Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Artist

A little bon-bon from France pretty much sums up this imaginative, funny, and very charming black and white silent film about acting in silent films in the 20s and 30s. In order for any movie to be truly loved by the audience, the audience must CARE. And you care by the bucketload because more delightful lead characters (one of whom is a Jack Russell ala Asta) are not to be found. The lead is played by Jean Dujardin, a French comedian/actor, and no, you haven't seen him before. The ingenue is played by Berenice Bejot, aptly named Peppy in the film.(also the writer/director's wife in real life) The movie is almost totally silent for dialogue, but the music plays throughout. Of course, here is also a lesson in the importance of the film score to the action. The actors, though French sprinkled with some English/Americans, silently speak in English so you can lip read on occasion. Just like reading subtitles in a foreign film where you are tricked into thinking "hey I totally can speak Chinese here!" so is the audience lulled into thinking they are hearing dialogue. One great side effect is that the audience in my theater was dead silent- no chit chat, no whispers- there was an acute awareness of how much everyone could hear. And so we listened more closely to words that were actually unsaid. Uncanny, but true. This is a truly wonderful film. It deserves all the credit it gets. And the charm of Dujardin cannot be overstated. The last moments of the film and just 2 words reveal what this has been about, and don't worry, you won't miss them. But it is a sweet revelation to the audience.  Go see it and bring all your friends.