The Artist

Rated 4.0

The enchanting novelty of The Artist comes to us on a wave of Oscar awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and more). Its subject may sound recondite—a silent movie, shot in black-and-white, about the silent-movie actors struggling with the transition to talking pictures—but it all works very nicely, both as a comic entertainment and as a frisky homage to old-time moviemaking. The title character is George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a swashbuckling star of silent movies who refuses to make the change to sound. His professional fall from grace is set off against the rise to success of Peppy Miller (a delightful B"r"nice Bejos), an ing"nue who makes a spectacular debut with Valentin and then goes on to stardom in talking pictures. All of this plays out as comedy bordering on parody, but with far more affection and zest than that might suggest. Filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius deftly manages an unlikely feat—not only playing a corny old story for laughs in a way that is neither condescending nor patronizing, but also re-creating silent movies and their ambience in a particularly lively and engaging form. Pageant Theatre and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13