By Contributor
February 23rd, 2012

Is it any coincidence that the winner of this year’s Best Actor award for comedy or musical in the Golden Globes was Jean Dujardin, the lead actor in Spotlight Films upcoming film The Artist and that he beat out the co-lead in Spotlight’s last film, Brendan Gleeson of The Guard? Maybe.

According to the critic site Rotten Tomatoes The Artist, written and directed by Michael Hazanavicius, (directed The Players) is “….a crowd pleasing tribute to the magic of silent film.”

It is 1927 and Peppy Miller,(Berenice Bejo, Dissonances, A Knight’s Tale) an eager fan of the silent film swashbuckling heartthrob George Valentin (Jean Dujardin, The Players, Little White Lies), crosses a police line outside a movie premiere and kisses the dashing, lovable, and preposterous star with cartoon like moustache and eyebrows on the cheek.

A newspaper photographer happens to catch the moment and the headlines reflect it by demanding: “Who’s That Girl?” Their apparent flirtation and her infatuation with Valentin get her a break in the movies when Peppy is inspired to audition as a dancer.

This beautiful good natured young woman impresses Valentin’s producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman, the television series Roseanne, The Big Lebowski, and a list of other films at least as long as the list of patronage appointments to the Canadian senate) and his chauffeur Clifton (James Cromwell, W,L.A. Confidential). Peppy’s career slowly ascends as she embraces the new era of talking movies.

Meanwhile Valentin, whose trademark is to appear onscreen with his faithful dog Uggie, dismisses the talking movie as a fad and descends painfully into obscurity.

Their apparent romance is not consummated as Valentin is not a sleazy cheater though he is unhappily married. Those who anticipate the electricity during successive takes of a movie where Valentin dances briefly with Peppy will lead to sordidness will be disappointed. In the opinion of one reviewer, however, “The physical consummation is irrelevant: the transactions of power and celebrity are sexier than sex.”

The actors, through much grueling rehearsal, performed their own dance scenes.

The list of awards this film has been nominated for or has won is staggering. They include nominations for several Oscar awards including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, Dujardin, and Best Screenplay, Hazanavicius; Cannes, Best Actor, Dujardin; Capri Actress Award, Bejo; and the Palme d’Or, Hazanavicius.

This film is rated PG 13, there is a crude gesture and a disturbing image. 

The Artistwill be shown at the Gem theatre 7:30 Tuesday, Feb. 28. Spotlight Films would like to thank their sponsors and supporters.

Don’t forget The World Traveling Documentary Film Festival on this weekend at Grand Forks Senior Secondary auditorium Friday through Sunday!