A comedy of unreserved movie love, shot in Hollywood by French director Michel Hazanavicius. Big silent star George (like a merger of Douglas Fairbanks, John Gilbert, and Warren William) falls when sound arrives. The casting of brash, funny, hugely likeable Jean Dujardin as George gives heart to the charm. Bérénice Bejo (the director’s partner) as Peppy, an emerging star of talkies, is iffier (female stars of the era had more flesh), but she sure is “swell.” Beautiful design, period touches, and black-and-white tonalities sustain the simple story’s odd, witty dreaminess. Words are only heard at the end, and the lift of some Vertigo music is impudent but effective. This Chaplinesque nostalgia bubble has a tender, endearing fondness for its sources. 2011.

4.0 stars

— David Elliott

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