Taking place in Hollywood in 1927, it stars OSS 117 himself, Jean Dujardin, as silent movie star George Valentin, an enormously popular leading man known for his swashbuckling roles. Hazanaviciusâ€™ wife, Argentine actress BĂ©rĂ©nice Bejo, plays Peppy Miller, an ambitious young Valentin fan who gets her big break when sheâ€™s put on screen with her favorite actor and soon, the beautiful ingĂ©nue is getting bigger and bigger roles. As Peppyâ€™s star begins to climb, Valentinâ€™s own career begins to wane, because he refuses to get involved in the new talking cinema.
Since premiering at Cannes, the movie has played at Telluride, Toronto and the New York Film Festival to equally enormous raves from critics and audiences alike, with many Oscar pundits elevating the film deservedly to the forefront of films that could possibly win Best Picture at next yearâ€™s Academy Awards. The thought of an unknown French filmmaker like Hazanavicius being placed among the ranks of directors like Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Alexander Payne, David Fincher and other Oscar regulars certainly will make this yearâ€™s awards race a lot more interesting, but the storytelling and filmmaking skills Hazanavicius shows off in The Artist make all the filmâ€™s kudos seem worthy.
Hazanavicius has been doing the rounds with the film for months, showing it to every industry guild and awards group possible, and in our extensive video interview below, ComingSoon.net spoke to the filmmaker about:
* What got him interested in going to Hollywood to make a silent film
* Whether he had to write a full script for the film
* If lip readers may find some interesting nuggets in the silent dialogue
* Getting Jean and BĂ©rĂ©nice involved in the movie following â€śOSS 117â€ť
* Having a high-profile movie with unknown French actors
* Getting people into the idea of watching a silent movie
* Working with the cinematographer and production designer on the B&W look
And lots more!
(Our apologies for the noisy atmosphere and the sound problems itâ€™s created.)
The Artist opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 23 with plans to expand gradually over the coming months. Look for our interviews with Hazanaviciusâ€™ stars sometime soon.