The new silent film THE ARTIST is only opening in London on the last day of 2011 but already it’s a smash hit and is destined to be one of the films of next year.

Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in The Artist

Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo

The buzz that’s carried THE ARTIST all the way from this year’s Cannes film festival in May – where its male lead Jean Dujardin won the ‘Best Actor’ prize – and at almost every film festival since, has people shouting the name of the previously little-known French director Michel Hazanavicius, for pulling off a movie he was told no-one would want to see.

Set in Hollywood in 1927, it’s silent, it’s in black and white and features a gloriously romantic story (and I love those) between Dujardin’s silent movie star George Valentin – THE ARTIST of the title – and Berenice Bejo‘s stunning starlet Peppy Miller. Oh, and there’s some great tap dancing. The combination of all these factors has lead critics to swoon and I think I’ll join them.

Hazanavicius has previously worked with his lead actor Dujardin, directing him in a couple of riotous action/adventure comedies over the last five years, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio. And Bejo was also in the first of those movies, as along with being a hugely talented actress, she’s Hazanavicius’ wife.

With a supporting cast that includes John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle and Malcolm McDowell, what more do you need to know? I’m there!