When we heard that French filmmaker Michael Hazanaviciu, the man behind the witty "OSS 117" spy spoofs, was next going to tackle a silent movie, we assumed it would be just another of his silly comedies. But when "The Artist" premiered at Cannes, people went nuts for the film, talking about it as a possible end-of-the-year awards contender. We couldn't quite believe it: That guy who makes the funny movies about the anti-Semitic, misogynistic spy delivered an Oscar contender? Well, we just saw our first trailer for "The Artist." Now we believe it.
The clip does a really great job of selling a movie that could be a marketing challenge: After all, how many people in 2011 want to see a silent film set in 1927 starring a guy most audiences don't know? But this trailer lays it all out pretty smoothly. George Valentin ("OSS 117" star Jean Dujardin) is a matinee idol who falls for pretty young Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo). What follows is dancing, love, heartbreak and lots of good-ol'-fashioned Hollywood entertainment.
Dujardin was a charm machine in the two "OSS 117" films -- despite playing a scoundrel -- and he won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for "The Artist," so this very much looks like his big breakthrough. But while this trailer shows that John Goodman and James Cromwell are in the cast as well, the real star is the silence. Rather than trying to hide the fact that it's a silent film, the Weinstein Company are smartly making that the trailer's strength. This is what Harvey does better than anyone: He'll make you love a Holocaust comedy ("Life Is Beautiful") and he'll make you care about a stuttering member of the Royals ("The King's Speech"). By comparison, doesn't "The Artist" just look like a lot of fun? Yeah, it really does.
'The Artist' trailer: Silence! [Inside Movies/Entertainment Weekly]