Silent knight | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Silent knight

The Artist tells the tale of a movie star laid low by the sound era

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French directior Michel Hazanavicius takes a break from his OSS 117 spy spoofs to pay loving tribute to the silent cinema, re-creating its luminous black-and-white photography and consigning all the dialogue to intertitles. The story is a variation on that timeless movieland myth A Star Is Born: Jean Dujardin plays a Hollywood matinee idol whose career unravels with the advent of the sound era, and Berenice Bejo is a bit player who ascends into the stratosphere once actors become prized for their gab. No big-time commercial filmmaker has tried anything like this since Mel Brooks made his appropriately titled Silent Movie (1976), but that had a contemporary setting and favored Brooks's vulgar shtick over the physical grace of the silent clowns. By contrast, this effort often manages to duplicate the magical pantomime of the era; a lovely scene in which Bejo drapes herself in the arms of a hung jacket as if it were a human lover could have come straight out of a Marion Davies picture. With John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller.

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Related Film

The Artist

Official Site: weinsteinco.com/sites/the-artist

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Producer: Thomas Langmann, Daniel Delume, Antoine De Cazotte and Richard Middleton

Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Missi Pyle