Yes, both he and his costar (Berenice Bejo) tend to chew the scenery, but that’s kind of how it worked in the days before spoken dialog. The fact that both are mostly unknown on this side of the pond makes it charming rather than grating. You wouldn’t want to see an American star like Brad Pitt mugging his way through this. That might make the film feel like an overlong joke.
I’m not sure I’d rate this the best of the year’s Oscar contenders, but it’s close. I like it when filmmakers take a chance, and do it for the sheer fun of the exercise rather than the pursuit of profit. I like seeing how well a story can be told using only the tools they had in the '20s. I like a really smart Jack Russell terrier. And the ending … well, I won’t spoil it. Dave Bob says check it out.