Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Illusionist [2010]

Director: Sylvain Chomet
Cast: Jean-Claude Donda, Eilidh Rankin
Genre: Drama/Animation
Rating: General
Comment: "Poetry in motion in the truest sense of the term..."

There was a time when magicians, or illusionists were big in the entertainment industry. But this movie is set at a time when their popularity is dying out. A down-on-his-luck illusionist quickly find himself out of work and has to travel abroad to make ends meet. He ends up performing in rural areas where electricity is still a luxury people can afford to live without. He meets a girl in a small Scottish island, and she becomes fascinated with him, believing that magic is real. They bond like a father and daughter, and neither lives would ever be the same again.

What to Expect
1. Beautiful hand-drawn and animated world
2. Indistinguishable dialogue
3. Despite that, there's plenty of characterisation
4. Calm, soothing film score

What NOT to Expect
1. To be for everyone
2. A fast-paced film
You might just fall in love with 2D animation again

This might just be one of those love-it-or-hate it kind of a movie. I for one think it's absolutely beautiful, but that could have plenty to do with my love for cartoons, although I wouldn't categorise this movie as simply that. You can't hear much of a dialogue going on, because when the characters do speak, they sound like they're speaking Simlish. All the same, this movie features a living, breathing world.

Much of the appeal of the movie comes from the theme of nostalgia, as the script itself was written by iconic French film-maker Jaques Tati as some sort of an attempt to reconcile with his estranged daughter. No doubt  that's the inspiration to tell a story about an illusionist who is falling out of significance and relevance, and it is no coincidence that that's why they decided to go for 2D animation to complement all that.

Again, just so you get the feel of this movie, try to remember any poem you've read in your life. Particularly those by the likes of Robert Frost or maybe some William Butler Yeats. It's going to feel a lot like that when it comes to the atmosphere, pacing and the whole imagery of it.

Should you see it?
Depends. As I have implied in the review, this might not be for everyone. You might even be confused by just for whom this movie was made for. Sure, children will be able to enjoy the colourful world but they might miss out on the heavier theme and message this film tried to bring forward. For the most part I would say that this one is for film lovers in general, although not for those without much of a patience or appreciation for the artistic.

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