THE ARTIST (PG)
The ultimate quiet achievement. France, 103 mins
The simple fact so many will be engaged and entertained by a French movie that has no spoken dialogue – and is shot in a square-framed black-and-white – is nothing short of a triumph. The story begins with 1920s movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) an unstoppable force at the box-office – until the big silent studios switch to sound. They’ve invited Valentin to join the party, but he refuses to attend. Financial ruin and a battle with the bottle follows. Valentin’s only hope of redemption? The vivacious Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), the biggest star in talkies. The irresistible appeal of The Artist owes much to its superb cast. The French leading duo of Dujardin and Bejo are wonderful throughout, mugging and over-emphasising the simplest of gestures with a knowing wink. Both are sometimes trumped by a remarkable little canine co-star named Uggie. This is no mere nostalgic ode to how magical the movies once were. This is a celebration of how magical the movies can still be.