This weekend, I went to see The Artist, a silent movie in black & white directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean DuJardin and Bérénice Bejo.
DuJardin, a French actor known for his comic roles in the OSS:117 spy spoofs (also directed by Hazanavicius) plays George Valentin, star of the silent screen, known to 1927 audiences for his daredevil adventures and canine companion, Uggie.
A chance photograph, taken with a fan at the premiere of his latest hit,A Russian Affair, introduces ingenue Peppy Miller, played by the delightful Berenice Bejo, who embarks on a career in pictures, beginning as an extra. Some advice from George helps her to establish herself and earn bigger roles in better pictures, and she's soon on her way to the top.
But the age of the talkies has arrived and George wants no part of it,dismissing it as a fad, a crass gimmick that takes away from the artistry of acting. And soon his star is on the wane, and before long, he's yesterday's news.
To say more would be to spoil it completely, and this is a film that quite simply deserves to be seen, not read about.
Director Hazanavicius brilliantly evokes the atmosphere, humour and pathos that were the cornerstones of the silent era, and the excellent supporting cast of John Goodman, James Cromwell and Penelope Ann Miller help to shape what will surely be hailed as a silent classic, nearly a century after the movies learned to talk.
I imagine I'll see The Artist a time or two again - you should, too...