This black-and-white French silent feature set in 1920s Hollywood employs an enjoyable conceit, writes Todd McCarthy.
CANNES -- It’s a good bet that most contemporary directors would have a hard time pulling off a silent movie, so it’s all the more impressive what Michel Hazanavicius has wrought with The Artist, a real black-and-white silent in the 1.33 aspect ratio that takes place in Hollywood when silents were overtaken by talkies. A playful, lightly melancholy tale with A Star Is Born echoes about a young actress whose career takes off in sound pictures just as that of a veteran male star declines, this unusual Los Angeles-made French production is, by definition, a specialty item, perfect for festivals and buff enclaves worldwide but a tough proposition commercially outside France, where the director and stars are household names by virtue of the OSS capers.
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