“The Artist” – What’s the Fuss?

There's all this buzz about "The Artist," a new "silent film" about the difficult period (at least for actors who didn't speak English very well) when movies began to have soundtracks. 

The film, shot in sharp-focus black and white with a musical soundtrack and some brief moments of sound effects and speech, is done up with 1920's style credits and occasional dialogue cards.  It's shot in the style of an old silent film until the very end, when the lead character speaks and you realize why he couldn't make it in "talkies."  And this was the problem, of course, for many silent film actors.  They had been recruited for their looks and abilities at pantomime, without regard for the quality of their voices, diction, or abilities to project text convincingly, since that was unnecessary.

Then soundtracks were invented and all of a sudden a past in the theater became important and looks had to be complemented with the ability to learn and project text convincingly, and lots of silent stars were suddenly out of demand.  This film tells the story of one of them.

OK, so it's an interesting story, but I don't understand all the fuss.  The lead actor does a good job of pantomiming the emotions necessary, the production values are high, but I fail to see any special interest beyond that of a stunt well-done.  I went to see it because it's won some awards and gotten good buzz, but I think there are plenty of other films of more immediate interest now playing.

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