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By Rima Sabina Aouf
February 06, 2012
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The Artist

There's no such thing as a perfect movie, but there may be one you wouldn't wish to be any different.
By Rima Sabina Aouf
February 06, 2012
  shares

There's no such thing as a perfect movie, but there may be one you wouldn't wish to be any different. Such is the magic of The Artist, which has ridden into theatres on an almost unprecedented wave of acclaim.

The French-made, Hollywood-set black-and-white silent movie follows the changing face of the film industry that comes with the advent of 'talkies' in the late 1920s. Silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) finds himself suddenly out of favour, while the star of a girl he recently discovered and clicked with, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), correspondingly rises. After George stakes his fortune and career on a self-made, stubbornly silent blockbuster that flops, everybody abandons George except his dog, his eventually unwaged valet (James Cromwell) and Peppy, who watches over her idol from afar.

Cinephiles clearly can't help but love this film — it's all about the history of cinema, the charm unique to cinema, and the rarely considered shared lineage of silent films and musicals. It reflects the practice of going to the cinema back at us, and somehow uplifts our trackie-dacks-and-choc-top experience to the venerated level we see on screen, where women dressed in gowns and gloves applaud a live orchestra.

But the reason why people of all kinds, from everywhere, love The Artist so much is almost certainly its generosity, sweet spirit and complete lack of pretension. The film is nostalgic and old-fashioned — as in old Hollywood and new Bollywood, it's a love story in which the lovers never kiss. Without turning saccharine, it has a gorgeously innate ability to strip your well-worn cynicism right off you. You'll smile like a baby. You can't think a mean thought.

It also helps that the three leads — that's Dujardin, Bejo and the uncannily expressive dog, Uggie — are monumentally charming. You've never really been charmed by someone, you'll find, until you've been so charmed without words. It's also fun to spot great familiar faces John Goodman and James Cromwell in supporting roles.

Seeing The Artist is precious, and that's better than perfection.

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