It’s hard to keep track of all of the things I loved about The Artist, the mostly silent French film up for ten Oscars this year. The lighting, for one, was so gorgeous that I wanted certain shots to last longer. It evoked noir in some places:
And early Orson Welles in others.
And it almost goes without saying that Ludovic Bource’s score, which covers almost the duration of the film's 100 minutes, was another highlight. It pulled my heartstrings in all the right places and seemed to comment on the proceedings in others. Chloe Veltman wrote a great piece on how the film deconstructs and makes you aware of sound in film in a way that ordinary listeners are perhaps not accustomed to.
But perhaps what I most appreciated was simply the way that the film seemed to simultaneously pay homage to, gently tease, and live fully in the long-lost world of movie magic. I'd be smiling at the melodramatic conventions of silent movie acting one moment and then spellbound by a tap dance worthy of Fred and Ginger the next. I'm not sure how exactly director Michel Hazanavicious accomplished this—perhaps it has something to do with the fullness and richness with which he imagined the world of the film, or simply its contagious high spirits—but somehow The Artist earns the right to have its cake and eat it, too.