The Artist

Film Editor JAMIE MATHIESON gushes everywhere. Find out why.

berenice bejo classic Film five stars Jamie Mathieson jean dujardian michel hazanavicius Movie silence silent film silent movie singin in the rain talky the artist

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius.


I’ve just seen The Artist. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful film and I want to see it again. Would you like to come with me? You’d be very welcome. Everyone’s welcome. Everyone in the world should see this film. It would make the world a better place if everyone did.

The comparison is with Singin’ in the Rain, and when you find yourself comparing something to Singin’ in the Rain you’re placing it in the bracket of something that’s very, very special. Like Singin’ in the Rain, it’s a film about Hollywood on the cusp of the age of talkies. It’s got tap-dancing, and bobbed hair, and lots of houses that could be Gatsby’s.

There’s something very Gene Kelly about Jean Dujardin’s smile, there’s something very Debbie Reynolds about Bérénice Bejo’s adorableness, and that makes Donald O’Connor…the dog. This dog is the best dog in films ever. This dog has more character than most actors. This dog won the ‘Palm Dog’ at Cannes, which is a thing that exists.

The Artist is a silent movie, but the silence is no gimmick. Silence is this film’s motor: it’s a film about not being able to speak, both literally and figuratively, and The Artist lives in the silences. When the music pauses, and there’s silence on the screen, all you can hear is…silence. Not even the rustle of a popcorn bucket. I’ve never been in a completely full cinema with an audience so totally rapt.

At first, I just enjoyed the novelty and the gags. But then came a scene where a man is talking to a very, very beautiful woman, and he stares at her face, hanging on her every word without hearing a thing, and the penny dropped. And it felt like coming home for Christmas.

The Artist made me laugh out loud at least once every two or three minutes. I didn’t stop smiling for an hour and a half. It even squeezes a moment of immaculately timed comedy out of a suicide attempt.

Our lead has only one spoken line in the whole film, right at the end, and it’s up there with the last words of Some Like it Hot as a perfect, perfect line that makes you gasp and perfectly rounds off a movie that could hardly have gotten any more perfect anyway. The Artist is a treat and a joy and a delight.

I really, really liked this film, and I think you will too. The Picturehouse, tonight, 9pm? See you there.