Can a silent movie about the end of silent movies be relevant to a modern audience? No surround sound, no technicolor, no widescreen…? The answer is a resounding yes.
Cinema at its best is about keeping your eyes glued to the screen- whether you’re looking at something beautiful, exciting, impressive, amusing, involving, emotional… Well, looking away is not an option here, but fortunately it has all of the above anyway.
From the off, Jean Dujardin is an utterly compelling screen presence. He has the requisite old-school looks, charm and sheer physical presence; conveying drama, humour and some pretty nifty footwork in the process, without coming across overly hammy (unless required). Berenice Bejo is just as captivating as the usurping new star Peppy Miller, beaming from the screen with an irresistible radiance.
But their symbiotic relationship is greater even than the sum of its parts. Their chemistry is palpable, and as the same forces that bring them together tear them apart, it leads to some genuinely edge-of-the-seat (and surprisingly dark) moments.
If I had a criticism, it might be that I didn’t quite feel as emotional a connection as I would have liked, but that’s not to say I wasn’t wholly invested throughout.
And yes, the dog absolutely steals the show.