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’s George Valentin meets Berenice Bejo’s Peppy Miller

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

And why would that be? Well, the premise is this – the film is set in Hollywood in 1927 as the advent of talkies begins to sweep across Tinseltown. Oh, and it’s silent and in black and white. OK, so far, so original.

But when you then add in that it 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. And then also mention there’s some great tap dancing. Well, who wouldn’t want to see that?!! 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 also Hazanavicius’ wife.

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