The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

Rated PG 82 min. 2010

The French animated film The Illusionist is as wispy and delicate as a helium balloon floating on the wind. It’s based on a 1956 screenplay written by the French director and actor Jacques Tati, who created his own ethereal, fragile ’50s and ’60s comedies like Mr. Hulot’s Holiday and Play Time. The film’s idiosyncratic personality is a loping, dignified middle-aged French magician (who bears a striking resemblance to Tati, who died in 1982) with a fixed repertoire of tricks: pulling rabbits out of hats, making full glasses of wine magically appear, grabbing coins from behind children’s ears. There is a gentleness and sweetness to his act, though for the most part it’s lost on his audience. French animator Sylvain Chomet, who made his heralded debut with The Triplets of Belleville, is a bit of an old soul himself, using mostly hand-drawn animation to give his film a mellow, gorgeously old-timey look with an occasional resemblance to the style of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians — though the pace is pure Tati. An innately generous man, the illusionist tends to cater to Alice’s every whim, buying her pretty shoes and dresses like an indulged daughter. With its quiet approach (words are kept to a minimum in this largely visual film) and beguiling innocence, so rare in any contemporary movies, The Illusionist has the ability to unite both adult and (sophisticated) child viewers.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Sylvain Chomet

Writer: Sylvain Chomet and Jacques Tati

Producer: Sally Chomet and Bob Last

Cast: Jean-Claude Donda, Edith Rankin, Jil Aigrot, Didier Gustin, Frédéric Lebon and Tom Urie

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