Jean Dujardin, star of the much acclaimed movie The Artist, conceived and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, is dubbed the French George Clooney. Silent, and black & white, The Artist is the perfect foreign film, playfully incarnating the era of Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, a Gallic homage with no accents. Shot in Hollywood with a supporting cast of American actors -- Penelope Ann Miller, John Goodman, James Cromwell and Beth Grant, among them -- the film limns the career of a fictional actor, George Valentin, who after a near tragic prideful "fall" makes the transition from silent films to talkies, with the love of a young actress played with eye fluttering excellence by the director's wife Berenice Bejo and accompanied by Ludovic Bource's evocative original music. Helping Peppy Miller become a star, George shows her how to pencil in a beauty mark. Their tap duet is surely the most joyful finale in recent movies. A classic love story, The Artist is an exhilarating nod to old Hollywood as only the French could make.
Celebrating the film's New York Film Festival opening on Friday evening, at the apartment of Susan and John Gutfreund. The gathering included producer Thomas Langmann, John Patrick Shanley, Julian Schnabel, Barry Levinson, Peter Riegert, Rachel Roy, Harvey Weinstein, and Eddie Redmayne, the young co-star of My Week With Marilyn, sang "Happy Birthday" to Dujardin's wife Alexandra, a big star in France as well. Jean Dujardin spoke about his longtime collaboration with Michel with whom he made OSS, a very French and, in this reporter's opinion, offensive mock up of James Bond. Minus the pencil thin mustache he sports in The Artist, Dujardin is funny and charming, insisting upon the integrity and appeal of his OSS character.
The Artist, however, needs no finessing. As the awards season approaches, expect many nominations for this highly entertaining work. Going on to win the Audience Award for Narrative at the Hamptons International Film Festival this past weekend, The Artist translates just fine.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.