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With ten Oscar nominations, “The Artist” is one of the mostcritically lauded films of 2011, an impressive feat consideringthat it is a modern black-and-white silent film. The film doesn’thave anything particularly new or meaningful to say, but itsenergetic performances and clear passion for the tropes of silentcinema result in an enjoyable film that is easy to watch.

The film follows the transition from silent film to “talkies”through the eyes of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a silent filmstar who watches his career fall to pieces as the film industrymoves beyond his craft, and Peppy Miller (B?©r?©nice Bejo),Valentin’s young admirer whose career quickly transcends his own.Dujardin and Bejo – along with Uggie, Valentin’s trusty caninesidekick – are what make “The Artist” meld where it could havefallen apart. Dujardin, a well-known comedy actor in France, nailsthe exaggerated mannerisms necessary to convey emotion in a silentfilm, and Bejo exudes charm without saying a word. Appropriately,both have been nominated for Academy Awards.

The plot of “The Artist” is very broad, as befitting the genre.Where the film shines is in the details: It strikes the rightbalance between homage and reinventing storytelling devices for themodern era. There are dance sequences and a chaste romance, but thescenes in which Valentin has hit rock bottom have a real levity tothem that exemplify the actors’ abilities beyond just mugging. Itdoesn’t hurt that with 80-plus years of cinematic history at itsdisposal, “The Artist” can make a few sly comments on the future ofcinema that the original silent films could not.

“The Artist” is not a deep meditation on human nature, but itdoesn’t have to be to succeed as a film. It serves as alight-hearted, comical reminder that there is still much meritfound in films that tell stories by showing rather thantelling.


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