I’m not convinced the Oscar buzz adds up, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed “The Artist.”
Maybe it was a matter of lowered expectations. I’m wary of gimmicks. The movie is in black and white and is virtually without dialogue. It’s about a silent movie star of the late 1920s unable to make the transition to talkies, and the whole movie-within-a-movie thing can go off the rails quickly. There are big dance numbers. I don’t much care for song and dance.
But it all works. It’s funny and tender, with enough clever tricks to keep things moving along. Though it all, our characters display love, loyalty and devotion to art. It lacks big stars. The lovable, irascible fading star is played by French actor Jean Dujardin, and about 15 minutes into the movie you’re wondering where Berenice Bejo – she’s marvelous – has been hiding all these years. John Goodman and James Cromwell fill things out as solid character actors. Oh, and the dog will steal your heart.
It’s only on a handful of screens in Kansas City, so you’ll have to drive at least as far as Westport to see it. But it’s one of the few movies I’ve seen this year that I enjoyed beginning to end and could sit through a second time.