The Artist is an irresistible comic gem that's as light on its feet as its protagonist. It's 1927, and silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is the toast of Hollywood. He's a charming leading man, part Rudolph Valentino, part Douglas Fairbanks, and utterly convinced that those newfangled talking pictures are just a fad.
They're not, and George's inability to rise to the challenge of speaking aloud (The Artist is silent except for a few inspired audio jokes) provides much amusement and a certain bittersweet note in a film that glorifies the silent era. As George's producer (John Goodman, in an inspired bit of casting) badgers him to speak, for the love of movies, speak, already, the silent actor and his firecracker paramour (Bérénice Bejo) are steadily forced apart by the advent of sound.
What's so intensely pleasurable about The Artist is the endless parade of creative and self-referential gags. The movie is a slight confection, really, but it's so delicious and knowing that it may well end up on any number of cineastes' desert-island lists. It's certainly on mine.