Phonophobia

A silent, black and white film. Sure we’ve seen plenty of those haven’t we? The Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton era immediately jumps into mind, where films comprised of over-the-top expressions, title cards for dialogues and  accompanying orchestra music .

Director Michel Hazanavicius takes us back to that era with the extremely likeable The Artist starring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. He narrates the extremely simple tale of the larger than life silent era superstar George Valentin (Dujardin)‘s fall from fame as silent films ‘gave way’ to the talkies.

Thanks to a clumsy attempt to catch a glimpse of her screen idol, Peppy Miller (Bejo) gets acquainted with Valentin. What follows is her euphoric rise as a talkies star while Valentin’s career moves into a dark nosedive.

A simple story at heart with an innocent and friendly romance, drama and lots of light and witty moments, what sets this film way above all else is the masterful storytelling of Hazanavicius and the masterful performances delivered by each and every single actor in this (mostly) dialogue-less movie.

Everything from the 1:33 Academy aspect ratio to the background music teleports you back in time to that glorious era when Hollywood was Hollywoodland. Every scene in this silent film yells out at you, with some (not so) subtle background images and movie names.

Dujardin plays Valentin with aplomb. From the self centered screen idol to the broken man with a crushed ego, he is top notch in every frame. His smile and eyebrows just stand out. Berenice Bejo plays the sparky and spunky Peppy Miller wonderfully, complimenting Dujardin every step of the way. Valentin’s four legged companion also deserves special mention as he contributes substantially to the happenings on screen.

I give The Artist a 4/5. It’s a charming and wonderfully entertaining film that’ll have you leaving the hall with a wide smile on your face. I would definitely want to watch this one again. The bottom line is simple. Don’t miss this on the big screen. GO WATCH IT.

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