After watching Shekhar Kapoor’s Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, my faith in cinema, and in the selections at the Cannes Film Festival, now on, was beginning to take a beating. That is when I saw The Artist. Helmed indeed artistically by Michel Hazanavicius, the black and white movie is the most enjoyable one that I have seen till now. It certainly restored my faith in the medium and the Cannes selectors.
The Artist is a charming, old world love story that most marvellously weaves within it the silent era in films, and how finally when cinema got its voice, so many great stars lost theirs. Men really handsome and women extraordinarily beautiful were found unsuitable for the talkie, because their voices were either too screechy or rough. Or, their diction and style of delivering lines was just not up to the mark.
One of the celebrated stars of the silent movies is George Valentine, portrayed elegantly by Jean Dujardin, who goes through the whole gamut of emotions – from exhilaration that he experiences as a big-time actor in the silent days to disappointment, when the Hollywood studio bosses reject him as sound comes on the screen.
The film ends on a happy note, but, oh, it must be, for it is from Hollywood -- with Bejo and Dujardin doing a superb dance number in the last scene. Ginger Roberts was it, or Fred Astaire? We can keep guessing.