starring Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell
written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius
by Walter Chaw It's tempting to dismiss Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist as fluff. It's tempting to take the side of Kim Novak when she complains about this fluff using Bernard Hermann's Vertigo score in vain, and a few critics and Internet memes have done exactly that. Yet The Artist is more than a passing fancy precisely because it uses the Vertigo theme correctly in a sentence. Indeed, it even has its way with film preservationists and other snobs (the kind who champion Hugo, for instance) by suggesting that obsessive movie love to the exclusion of all else is the same sort of illness, ultimately, as necrophilia. In the fluffy course of its runtime, in fact,The Artist manages to be as subversive and scabrous a Hollywood artifact as Sunset Blvd., finding its monkey funeral towards the end instead of at the beginning but presenting a close-up Mr. DeMille at its conclusion almost as ambiguous and doomed. It's popular because it keeps its edges carefully sheathed...but they're there. And I think people are offended once they realize--most of them long, long after the fact, and through other avenues--that Hazanavicius had the temerity to peanut-butter a little obsessive, consumptive, solipsistic love in there to gum up all the crevices. I'll be honest: I think that if you don't believe The Artist is correct in its use of Vertigo, you probably also thought that Vertigo was a love story.