The film was released on October 12th in France. It came out first of the BO charts after one week with 443,000 spectators. So it looks as if it's going to be a success.
I have seen the film today. I thought it was worth every penny I spent on the ticket. It's a lovely tribute to the old days of Hollywood. It covers a span of time that goes from 1927 until 1932. George Valentin (J. Dujardin) is a superstar of the silent screen, adulated by his fans. But he misses completely the change to talkies. His wife leaves him. In spite of the careful attention he receives from his chauffeur (James Cromwell), he becomes an alcoholic and a has been in no time. Away from the screen for several years, nobody recognises him anymore. A young man tells him: "You were my father's favourite!" A blessing in disguise... In parallel, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Béjo) a young extra rises to stardom. She is the personification of the young flapper. Deep down, she is in love with George Valentin, even when he becomes the shadow of his former self. The film uses cleverly some sound effects for one nightmare. Valentin is slipping down with sound, and he dreams that he can hear all the noises coming from the objects surrounding him, the traffic buzz and the laughter of others. But his own voice remains silent as if he was mute. The large John Goodman plays Valentin's director with his usual flair. There is also a very clever little dog (that deserves all the awards!) which is Valentin's pet. He follows him everywhere and saves his life more that once. The storyline is extremely simple, but it manages to create real characters. The film manages to end of an optimistic note, reminiscent of Singin'in the Rain
. As for the music, I felt it was perhaps a trifle too diverse: from jazz to a complete quote of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo
. But, overall, it's a very entertaining, engaging film. I should mention that all the title cards were in English (even here in Paris) to give it the right flavour. All the sets, costumes, props have been lovingly created to be exactly right. You'll see tons of 20s film posters, fan magazines, theater marquees, etc. as well as Art Deco furnishing. I am sure the film will be a success in the US. It's got all the right ingredients and it's great fun. Run to see it when it comes out near you! No 3D, no CGI, no explosion, just real human beings in B&W.