The Artist is a fairly ordinary film about the downfall and partial rehabilitation of a vain and prideful man at the time that silent movies morph into talkies in glamorous Hollywood. Amazingly enough, this dull and pretty tawdry piece of theater is transformed into an event movie, entirely because it’s filmed in black and white, and is itself silent for most of its running time. I didn’t enjoy it tremendously, and I sort of fell asleep in the middle.
However, The Artist is worth reporting for a couple of reasons – not least because Jean duJardin’s morning hair is slick and glossy and immaculate whereas mine looks like Margaret Thatcher in a windstorm. No, “The Artist” is the first Best Picture winning movie in a gazillion years – and one of only about twenty nominees since 1973 – to be shot entirely in LA. From downtown L.A.’s historic Orpheum Theatre to the Hancock Park mansion where Mary Pickford once lived, Director Michel Hazavanicius has tellingly said that his film was “not just a love letter to silent cinema but to the city of Los Angeles as well.” So that’s a nice up to Hollywood, which has been battered almost unrelentingly by what the Californians love to call “runaway production”.
And secondly, given the loving homage to LA, “The Artist” is in fact a French film, with finance from French government funds, I haven’t heard any cacophonous whining from the French that this runaway film shot anywhere other than Paris.