A Joyful Silence

December 22, 2011

It’s easier to convince people you’re smart if you don’t like stuff. If you like something and recommend it to people and they don’t like it, they wonder about your intelligence level. “How could so-and-so love such-and-such? Is she stupid?”

If you follow film at all, you’ve heard of “The Artist.” It’s a black-and-white silent picture about a silent film actor (Jean Dujardin) who can’t, or won’t, make the transition to talkies. It’s won a bunch of awards. It deserves to win more. We should make up new awards just to give to “The Artist.” Everyone who sees it should bake cookies and send them to director Michel Hazanavicius.

I love “The Artist” because it is a film that loves movies. It celebrates the beginnings of classical Hollywood with allusions and emulations, winking at “Citizen Kane” and stealing a little from “Vertigo,” all while maintaining an unrelentingly cheery outlook. It’s rare to find that kind of unadulterated joy in a smart film. Here, there’s no cynicism: Love is a good thing. Loving movies is a good thing. Loving anything is good, because with love comes joy.

So I don’t feel bad about enthusiastically adoring “The Artist.” I grinned and gasped my way through the film, and it’s been a long time since that’s happened. I am dorkily, cheesily in love with this movie — so much so that I can’t stay silent.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film, arts and events for Express.
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