The Artist (2011) Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Films like The Artist don't come around very often. It is THAT near perfection; a film about love, a film about film, a film about hope, and above all a film about the bond between a man and his dog. It makes it straight away into one of cinema's greatest love stories - both between lead man George Valentin (the glorious Jean Dujardin) and actress Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), and George and his faithful Jack Russell 'Jack' (Uggie).

If The Artist fails to move you, then you are MADE OF STONE. Fair play, a silent movie and *shock* in black & white may strike fear into some of you, but do not let this put you off. If you go, you will come out feeling reborn...changed...loving life! When cinema does that to you, it's very special indeed. Me - and my entire row - were full on howling at this film; at one point, I even let out an audible 'blub'. It takes you high, and it takes you to the lowest of lows.

We follow 1920s silent movie star George Valentin at the premiere of his new film A Russian Affair. All of his films seem to be called 'A xxx Affair'. Lapping up his adulation, George is posing for press photos when he bumps into the pretty Peppy Miller who is waiting in the crowd of fans. Peppy is pushed in front of the photographers and makes the front cover of Variety with the headline 'Who's That Girl?' - she then auditions as a dancer, where Valentin sees her and gives her a part in his next movie. As Peppy's career soars, Valentin's starts to fade fast with silent movies being replaced with 'talkies'. He refuses to accept this is what the public want and continues by making his own silent film, which is a big flop. He turns to drink and other desperate measures as his career fails, and Peppy becomes more and more of a star.

Sounds a bit depressing? Believe me, it isn't. The Artist is a joy to watch and a love letter to the film industry - every part of it is well thought out and in there for a reason. Michel Hazanavicius takes us through the different stages of film with such delight and splendour. Both Dujardin and Bejo are WONDERFUL; Bejo especially so as the spunky and uplifting Peppy - her smile alone lights up the screen and the hearts around the cinema. You will fall in love with her. They carry the film with such gusto on their expressions alone, and you forget after a while there is no sound - only the wonderful score of Ludovic Bource. When the use of sound does come, it is extremely clever - George only hears in silent and he has a nightmare in sound.

But the real star of the film is the incredible Uggie - he is acting! He can bloody well act! I refuse to accept anything else. He will melt your heart; his loyalty to George when he hits the lows, his incredible feats in saving George's life on two occasions. Bravo little Uggie! You're a superstar!

The film of the year. See it now. You won't regret it
5/5 barks