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Animated Simplicity
jonnyhavey6 February 2011
Simplicity is a very interesting word that is defined in many ways. "The Illusionist" is a film that is synonymous with this word and is a visual representation of the art of simplicity. Nominated for every major best Animated Feature Film award including a 2011 Oscar Nomination birth, "The Illusionist" is more than just one of the best-animated films of the year. Will it win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film? Probably not just because "Toy Story 3" went on a record breaking spree within the animation genre, however, "The Illusionist" is just as good as "Toy Story 3" if not a little better. The film is based off of a script written in the late 1950s by a French, mime, actor, and director named Jacques Tati, but was forgotten about until Director Syvain Chomet picked up the script and ran with it producing an 80 minute animated masterpiece. The film follows the travels of a French Illusionist from town to town looking for work while performing his artistic magician craft in small shows. However, his profession is lost within the changing entertainment era causing him to lose hope, until one day while traveling in Scotland he met a young girl named Alice. Alice changes his life with her belief that he is actually a real magician seeing through the illusion of magic and personifying it into being. The Illusionist becomes a father or grandfather figure to her as they grow together down very separate paths.

The simplicity of the film goes hand in hand with the authenticity and depth of the very easy to watch story. The animation is 2D brilliance with every image on the screen having deeper meaning of some sort. The film uses its filmatic space avoiding lulls and capturing the viewer's attention with its very short run time. This is achieved by the craft of Director Chomet who has created a picture that is so well done it does not even feel like its animated. This can be attributed to cinematography used with the animation. A camera seems as if it is filming the film almost as an alternative reality in a medium that would not of been as effective if it had not been animated. Authenticity is evident even with the minimal dialogue acting a throwback to a simpler era; silent film. It does not rely on its dialogue at all spreading it few and far between, however, when there is dialogue it is true to the setting and the nature of the film. It is in French and guess what? There aren't any annoying subtitles.

For some viewers the fact that the film is in French and that there aren't subtitles (I bet the DVD/Blu-Ray will have the option) it may be very frustrating. Also, this is not necessarily a kids movie. Kids will enjoy the magic behind "The Illusionist", but will not appreciate it as much as adults because of the immense amount of symbolism in the film.

Contemporary film seems to be all about glamor, special effects, and money leading to the creation of hit or miss films. However, film as an art is much simpler than that, which is a metaphor that resonates within the must see film "The Illusionist". Remember simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.
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You won't find a 2010 movie more visually beautiful than this one.
Ryan_MYeah6 February 2011
Based on an unpublished script by Jacques Tati, The Illusionist follows a magician named Tatischeff, a man whose art form of illusion is dying. He begins taking any job that comes along his way, and even while in Scotland, is accompanied by a young girl named Alice. Tatischeff and Alice develop a sort of father/daughter bond, and Tatischeff ponders his own life as well.

The film is directed by Sylvain Chomet, the man probably best known for his 2003 animated art-house feature The Triplets of Belleville. One thing that I simply adore about The Illusionist is that Chomet follows closely to the phrase "Actions speak louder than words." The film's dialogue is minimal, and for it's storytelling relies almost entirely on animation, body language, and a simple, but beautiful musical score written by Chomet himself.

This isn't even mentioning the animation style itself. I've seen many 2010 movies, but The Illusionist is easily the most gorgeous. The characters are given fluid and realistic movements, and the ambient surroundings of the city and hillsides are outstanding examples of art-direction. I practically had to suppress the tears (And no, I'm not kidding).

You may find a movie you like better than The Illusionist, but frankly, I don't think you'll be able to find a SINGLE. DAMN. MOVIE. more beautiful than this one.

I give it ***1/2 out of ****
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Artistic animation laced with subtle sadness
FatMan-QaTFM24 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is the great L'illusionniste, not the Neil Burger/Jessica Biel/Ed Norton version. While I thought the ill-timed The Prestige competitor was entertaining, it's not even in the same film-making universe. For those of you who are not familiar with Sylvain Chomet's work with The Triplets of Bellville, he showed his live action skill directing that bizarre segment of Paris Je T'Aime involving mimes and the Eiffel Tower.

The story is quite simple: a traveling magician finds himself in Scotland performing in a small town. A girl sees his magic and believes it is real. She follows him to Edinburgh all the while believing that the gifts, money, and food he provides for the both of them are fabricated out of thin air. The original story was written by Jacques Tati, a French mime, director, and actor from the mid 1900s. It is a love letter from him to one of his children, but it is unclear whether the story is written to his first child abandoned in infancy or to his other child with whom he never spent enough time. Either way, there is evident a sense of melancholy and guilt in the magician's care of the girl. He sneaks out to a night job to afford to buy her the coat, dress, and shoes she desires; he always produces her spending money with a magical flourish; and he never tells her to her face that she shouldn't believe everything she sees.

On one hand, you want to hate the girl – she latches on to the magician and seems so naive and even greedy at some points. On the other hand, the magician chose to keep up the illusion (ooooooh!) and never exposes her to the harshness of the world. It's not until he believes she has someone to care for her that he


disappears and leaves a note that simply says "Magicians don't exist."

I first saw this film in January at a fairly crowded art theater. Young, old, artistic, and not were all there. When the film's last scene closed, and the credits began to roll, there wasn't a sound in the theater. Nobody spoke, nobody got up to rush out like they normally do. We all just sat there in silence, unsure of how to feel. I was sad, inspired, resentful, and had a lump in my throat. Few films have that impact on me and fewer make me run out to see the movie again. I think the biggest problem (only in that it leaves you a bit confused emotionally) is a lack of closure. Nothing really changes – we don't get to see how the girl reacts to the truth. The magician moves on with his life and career, seemingly untouched by the brief time with the girl. We want a happy ending, a kiss, a death, anything to leave us without an open end to wonder about on the way home.

I have not even begun to talk about the beauty of the film. Character design was excellent, from the Brit-pop band to the angry little bunny that makes me laugh every time. More than ever, it makes me long to visit Scotland, the homeland, so I can see Edinburgh firsthand. The artistry of the film is only outdone by the subtle sadness of the story told without any real dialog.

This film is instantly one of my favorites. See it in theaters, see it on DVD. See it.
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La magie de Monsieur Tati
Rindiana20 February 2010
All my scepticism was futile, thank God! This animated charmer really oozes Tati's peculiar brand of character comedy from every single pore.

Yes, the story is more sentimental and streamlined than the master's original efforts, but Tati's central issues (such as old-fashioned life-styles and values confronted by modern technology), his eye for detail, his pleasantly reserved humanity and his wonderful sense for comedic timing and subtle gags are all left intact by the careful makers of this gem. And the rendering of the Hulot character with all his distinctive mannerisms is a joy to behold.

Plus, it's good to see beautiful hand-drawn animation for a change (with sparse use of CGI techniques.)

8 out of 10 querulous white rabbits
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a different experience
thisissubtitledmovies3 September 2010
Sylvain Choment's latest film adapts a script by Jacques Tati. The film's unique style is only being shown in forty cinemas across the UK, its box office status falling behind the animated Pixar hit Toy Story 3.

Those who are followers of Tati's work or loved Belleville Rendez-vous will inevitably be drawn to such as personal piece. As will those seeking out a different experience from Disney, Pixar and even Studio Ghibli animation. This film, however, may confuse or bore those who are looking for the usual Hollywood narrative. It is a shame the detail of this touching story will be overlooked by so many. KH
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zetes22 May 2011
Sylvain Chomet's long-awaited follow-up to The Triplets of Belleville adapts an unfilmed screenplay by French master Jacques Tati. Chomet's film doesn't feel much like a Tati film, though - it's very much a Chomet film. But that's okay. I wouldn't want some poor director to feel he has to ape another filmmaker's style. The Illusionist follows a vaudeville magician, modelled after Tati (and called Tatischeff, which was Tati's real last name). He's old, and his world is starting to fade. He leaves France for an extended tour of Britain. Eventually he finds his way to a remote Scottish island, where he meets up with a young woman, Alice. When Tatischeff leaves the island, the girl coyly follows him, and he pretty much adopts her. The two go to Edinburgh (or a fictionalized, Edinburgh-like city) and Tatischeff gets a regular job at a theater (and another at a gas station, secretly, at night) so he can provide the girl with the beautiful clothes she desires (having existed in squalor on the island, she has never seen dresses as beautiful as she does in the city).

The biggest resemblance that it bears to Tati's films, besides the Tati caricature at its center, is the fleeting, impossible romance between the man and the girl. All four of the M. Hulot films contain this element to one degree or another. In The Illusionist, the relationship falls somewhere between the analogous romances in M. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle. In Mon Oncle, there is a teenage girl who has a crush on M. Hulot, but he knows he's far too old for her and treats her in an avuncular fashion. In M. Hulot's Holiday, he is quite a bit older than the blonde, who is frequently bothered by boys her own age, but at least he has a chance. In The Illusionist, Tatischeff is an old man. He does love the girl. He can keep her, but can never have her. She essentially isn't any different than his rabbit - living its life in a cage. When it's free, it's only going to bite his finger when he gets too close.

The film does not contain much in the way of the grotesque oddities that fueled The Triplets of Belleville. It is much subtler, gentler, and more beautiful. It has a grace all its own. It can be very funny when it wishes. Chomet has obviously spent years on this film, and it looks spectacular. Even if he had made only The Triplets of Belleville, his reputation amongst cinematic animators would be secure, but The Illusionist puts him very near the top of the list of the greatest who ever lived.
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Charm over content.
markgorman18 July 2010
It was my great privilege to be invited to the world premiere of Sylvain Chomet's follow up to Belleville Rendez-Vous.

Set in Edinburgh and produced by an old pal of mine, Bob Last, I had very high expectations indeed. Not least because it is not every day that one of the world's most beautiful cities (my own) would be caught in artful majesty for years to come. And indeed it was. Edinburgh is a real star of this charming but very slight movie.

The city shimmers throughout, but the story sadly does not. It reminded me of a novel by Irish writer, William Trevor, called Felicia's Journey in which a young girl is taken into the trust of an older man. In that book (and subsequent film starring Bob Hoskins) and this, there is a slight air of seediness. (That's maybe going too far in the case of The Illusionist but the comparison was palpable for me.) Why the protection? What are the man's motives? I found it mildly uncomfortable. The fact is, in neither case are the intentions, apparently, anything more than protective; but somehow the feeling persists in both that all may not be as it seems.

Belleville Rendez-Vous arrived on the film scene like a bolt from the blue. This, sadly, suffers from that difficult second film syndrome. It oozes class and charm from every pore. It looks sublime. But the story (a Jaques Tati cast off) fails to deliver. It simply does not have the muscle to sustain 90 minutes of screen time.

A real shame because it has a great deal of merit.

Heart? 8/10.

Head? 6/10
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Delicate but vibrant, hand-carved charmer
cliffhanley_21 October 2010
The long-awaited follow-up to Belleville Rendez-Vous is out at last, and director Sylvain Chomet must be the number one in a field of one, when it comes to contenders for making a long-lost Jaques Tati script into a feature-length animation.

The underlying premise of the story here is the same as in all Tati's films: Old is Good, New is Bad. Variety theatre conjurer Monsieur Taticheff is one of the last of the old troupers as TV and rock 'n' roll kill off music hall in the late 1950s. In search of gigs, he takes his grumpy old rabbit and leaves Paris for London, then heads north to the Scottish isles and finally Edinburgh. Along the way he is joined by bored and lonely little Alice, who believes his tricks are the real thing. He has to take on menial jobs to keep up the illusion of magically producing yet more gifts for her.

The Paris, London, countryside and Edinburgh of the Fifties are lovingly recreated in charming detail, always bathed in the warm light of nostalgia, and all people - and even the animals - are extreme caricatures while being totally sympatico. The hand-drawn, hand-carved feel of the whole film is greatly added to by some amazing special effects, and not surprisingly with Chomet, there is some genuine magic tucked in there, too. There's just too much in almost every scene to grasp at one sitting, from the crowded country pub to the busy, aerial views of Edinburgh and, like Belleville, it will bear several return visits. It's a truly fantastic ode to the theatre, pre-motorway Britain, Jaques Tati himself and the bitter-sweet meaning of life.
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Visual feast or tourism commercial?
Miakmynov17 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Silent-ish - albeit with the odd, annoyingly generic multi-lingual aside (think that irritating 'Nichole? Papa? Citroen advert) - animated film about a 1950's magician's voyage from Paris to Edinburgh via the Scottish Islands and Highlands. The struggle to find and retain work in a dying craft is beautifully depicted, especially in the final moving sequences when he leaves his rabbit on Salisbury Crags, and a poignant note for his young hanger-on saying 'there are no magicians'. It looks great - as other reviews have said, a real love-letter to Edinburgh in particular, although it veered into 'tourism TV advert' territory rather too much for my liking. The strength is in the beautifully-nuanced period detail. However, some of the farcical vignettes were clichéd and rather dull, and the lack of dialogue meant that the limited storyline failed to hold my attention at times. But I can see why it was chosen to open EIFF this year, and it's a definite feast for the eyes.
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A beautiful film
Duncan_C15 June 2010
This is the opening film at this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival and I was lucky enough to see it today with my delegate pass. It's an animated film by Slyvain Chomet. The film did well at Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and I predict it will do very well at Edinburgh this year as well.

Briefly the film is about a French magician struggling with his trade, who meets a young Scottish girl. They travel to Edinburgh together and explore the city. I don't want to say too much more than that for anyone reading who wasn't seen the film.

Things I loved about the film were that there was barely any dialogue, most things said were in either french or Gaelic and I understand neither, yet I understood the whole film. This is because visually the story is told through actions not words. It's masterfully told this way and beautifully drawn,

The visuals were just stunning. I live in Edinburgh where most of the film is set and it made me want to get out and enjoy the city. The drawings aren't always geographically accurate but this doesn't matter. That doesn't affect the film, I just happened to notice because I live here.

I loved the subtle humour in some of the backgrounds. Your eye was skilfully drawn to the right places by use of colour placement. A warm glow behind the main character may link to a flyer stuck to the wall. The main character will then walk to pick up this flyer. This was brilliant.

On the downside I thought that towards the end the story began to lag a little, maybe just being a tad too long. Other than this there was little I did not like. The ending though when it came brought me to the verge of tears, it was that beautiful. I urge everyone to go see this film when it comes out, or in EIFF if you can get tickets.
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Magical and beautiful
whitesheik12 May 2011
After just having perused some of the most obnoxious and idiotic "reviews" for this film, one just has to speak up. Two fools on here actually go so far as to imply the film has overtones that make them uncomfortable, namely an older man and younger woman. This, of course, says more about the "reviewers" than anything on view in the film; note to "reviewers:" get a life or seek help.

Then you have the Tati acolytes who think they know everything and decry the film just because someone else had the temerity to make it. Then you have the just plain ignorant, with several people talking about how long the ninety minute film is. Note to ignorant: Sans credits, the film runs seventy-two minutes.

The most horrible films have drooling, rabid "reviewers" crying "A neglected gem!" about films that should be deposited in a trash can. But for this? This they decry. Unbelievable.

I'm not going to say much about the film because it should be discovered. It is a film of magic, it is a film of beauty, it is a film of small moments, it is a film that will ultimately be considered a masterpiece and these selfsame anonymous "reviewers" will jump on the bandwagon and blithely forget what they originally said.

See it. Sylvain Chomet is the real deal.
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Beautifully made but plot lacking colour.
Royce_Alvacura16 June 2010
When I went to go see this film at the Edinburgh Film Festival there was a big buzz surrounding it. People were enthralled that a movie would focus so much on the city, but did it do Edinburgh justice?

A few minutes into the movie Edinburgh comes into picture. Set in the 1950's we see a quiet and very quaint Edinburgh. It features heavily on many of the monuments still present today and I love the way we see the architecture unaffected by modern builds. It made me wish I lived back then. The 3D shot that encapsulates all of Edinburgh in one go, is mind-blowing.

However, as much as I loved seeing Edinburgh in the wonderful rich colours of detail, I was disappointed by the rather gloomy feel to the movie. Yes, it has its charming moments, especially with the merry, drunk Scotsman character, but much of the side plots and main plots I feel are a tad melancholy which in turn, sobered my experience of the film.

The little dialogue (mainly in French and Gaelic; I don't understand either) is pretty easy to follow, but during the end of the film I was left cold when I misunderstood small phrases. It did frustrate me a little, but it led me to interpret the film differently, giving an ambiguous feel to an overall very charming and impressive piece of animation.
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I was expecting more.
JulieKelleher572 February 2011
"The Illusionist" was good, but I don't see what the great reviews were about. (I agree with a previous writer who compared all the glowing reviews to "The Emperor's New Clothes.")

The animation was, indeed, subtle and exquisite, but I couldn't get into the story. Maybe the story itself was too subtle for me. Maybe I expected too much, since I thought "The Triplets of Belleville" (same director; hand-drawn animation) was one of the best movies I had ever seen.

I felt no connection with either the man or the girl. The other characters popped in and out so quickly that they were almost forgettable. And the ending was unsatisfying.

If I had seen this first, it would not have prompted me to see 'The Triplets of Belleville'.

NOTE: This is NOT a movie for children.
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Agree With Most Of The People Here
ccthemovieman-126 May 2011
I pretty much had the same opinion of this film as most of the reviewers here on IMDb. I loved the incredible, stunning visuals but thought the story was so-so.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a prettier animated film, especially when viewed on Blu-Ray. The artwork in here is simply jaw-dropping, scene after scene. I just wish the story had been as much fun as Sylvan Chomet's previous effort, "The Triplets Of Belleville." This story is kind of drab - the opposite of the beautiful drawings, under the art direction of Bjame Hansen.

For you adults that would like a serious, almost melodramatic story in a different genre (animation), this film should be extremely appealing.

For the artwork alone, I found it worthwhile watching.
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Broken Enchantments
jpwarton21 June 2010
Since the post-WWII wave of neo-realism, filmmakers have been exploring the beauty within the recesses of the urban landscape. The Italians had Rome's 'any space whatever'; the French New Wave caressed Paris; Woody penned his love letter to Manhattan, Spike wrote his to Brooklyn; Jean-Pierre did Montmartre; John Hughes did Chicago; and now with 'L'illsionniste' Sylvain Chomet has Edinburgh. The film is, indeed, bestowed with loving detail upon Scotland's capitol. Sadly, the narrative providing the means for discovering the city imparts a final impression of cold disillusionment that starkly contrasts with the city that I've come to know in the last three years.

Chomet tells the story of an aging slight-of-hand magician -- a cartoon of an already cartoonish M. Hulot -- who takes his outdated stage act from Paris to Scotland's Hebrides isles. His magic and kindness inspires a naïve young maiden to tag-along with him and the two find themselves in Edinburgh. The remainder of the film is a coming-of-age story for both characters: a slowly paced, melancholy journey of economic hardship and broken enchantments. The city crushes the magic and mystery of life, leaving the viewer with an acute sense of doomed mortality.

Of course, glimpses of brilliance can be found. The animation medium befits the Jacques Tati character as well as Edinburgh itself, and Chomet's restrained style teases out the occasional smile from the ordinary moments of life. Unfortunately what is missing is the very thing I love most about the city: its people. Edinburgh is a city of extraordinary people and heritage. It seems then, that though Chomet's heartfelt intention was to show off the city he calls home, he failed to recognise its most remarkable asset. It's the people that give life to Edinburgh and without this city of endless stone does indeed seem cold. Had Chomet focused more on the characters' interactions with the residents as opposed to themselves, I think the film would have better communicated a stirring sense of hope and quiet pride that would have left the viewer with a greater desire for and appreciation of the city of Edinburgh.
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A melancholy, visually interesting and bitter-sweet film.
Lancaster_Film17 June 2011
A film by French film maker Sylvain Chomet, who also directed The Triplets of Bellville. It is a wonderfully delicate film, visually it provides a lot of interest and is particularly relevant to those who know the city of Edinburgh in which a large portion of the film is set.

As an animated film, The Illusionist has the feeling of being children's film, however the film has an extreme dearth of dialogue, with only a few spoken lines, which are not all in English. Nor is the film action packed or concerning a character to whom children will readily relate. Like the opening scene of "Up" The Illusionist conveys the arc of life and the melancholy of old age, an issue most children will find it hard to understand. From an adult point of view this is a bitter-sweet, beautiful film.

In 1950s France, magician Tatischeff is finding it increasingly difficult to make a living as his style of entertainment goes out of fashion. Tatischeff travels across Europe looking for a home for his act, and picks up orphan Alice along the way, finally settling in Edinburgh.

The film has some comic moments, Tatischeff's uncooperative rabbit who resents being pulled out of a hat, provides one such moment, although these are tinged with the melancholy which runs throughout the film.

The film's story is linked with the life and work of Jacques Tati, though how closely is widely debated. The debate and the elements of Tati's life which are said to inspire the story adds an extra level of depth and interest to the film.

The calm and serene beauty of the film, with little action, virtually no dialogue and a soundtrack which lulls you into a dreamlike state the film verges on dull and soporific. While the overwhelming sadness which runs throughout the film causes a sense of woe, leaving you contemplating the message of the film.
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Beautiful film Warning: Spoilers
The semantics of the titular character's table-side note can be disseminated and reassembled however the viewer chooses, but The Illusionist a dedication to the idea that "magic"..."illusions" are inescapable. Subsequently the people who perform them do exist.

At various points illusions are shown which are neither controlled or "performed" as such. The Illusionist's rabbit "disappearing" into the soup is a good example of this; another: the Illusionist pretends, or is misunderstood as an auto-mechanic, but none-the-less performs his assigned task; another: Alice gradually dressing-up and impressing a past analogue of herself; another: the subversion of the scream-inducing alpha-male rock band into effeminate go-go dancers. If we're to carry this notion further into film clearly this "note" (and if you want, the entire father-daughter relationship) is simply another unintentional machination devised for her to be happy. His eventual collapse into a "magical decline" (due to his dying art-form and the dilution of its grandeur) and his final denial as a magician all culminates in her happiness. It is an exact analogue to the Illusionist's having removed Alice's stale red jacket to reveal a prettier white one.

Not only this but as we leave the apartment the window blows open and creates a fluttering mass of shadowy uncertainty on the wall; Alice and her boyfriend are purposefully depicted in bright colors against a sea of umbrellas; the lights dim, but do not "blacken", the ventriloquist's puppet in the shop window; and most importantly, the TVs still shine light in the closed down shop.

Finally then, The Illusionist and Chomet (as magic and magician) perform their final trick on us: a child loses their small pencil in the train car, and as the Illusionist picks it up he pairs it with his own longer pencil and makes them disappear into his sleeve. Here he has a choice to make the child's pencil magically lengthen...but instead returns the very same smaller one. The same prop is replaced, through illusion, with the same prop. Likewise, the relationship of a father with his daughter is gradually replaced with a stronger, mutual one (compare the voyeuristic peering of the Illusionist as he comes home drunk with Alice's first kiss in the rain). The "same" is disappeared by "different" and returned as the "same", magic replaced by stronger magic. Or if you prefer...reality itself.
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Magic Moments
writers_reign21 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Perhaps I should begin by stating that I have not seen Belleville Rendez-vous, have never had any real desire to do so and whilst I have seen a couple of Jacques Tati films he is someone I can take or leave. I checked out The Illusionist on the basis of what amounted to several Rave reviews plus, many of which made a point of mentioning the hand-drawn animation rather than cgi, plus the knowledge that the film touched on vaudeville in Paris in the 1950s. I didn't expect it to eclipse Clouzot's Quai des Orfevres which dealt with French Music Hall in the 1940s or Paris,'36, which did the same for the 1930s and the Popular Front but it is a subject in which I am interested so I checked it out. Whilst I am not prepared to endorse the 'rave' reviews in the National Press I did find it well made and moving with an incredible attention to detail.
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Failing to walk in the footsteps of a genius.
sam-fellows3 August 2010
Despite its good intentions, with its original touching story adapted from the influential comic master Jacques Tati, this animated film may well alienate much of its audience with its melancholy slow pace. With the changing of time the once famous illusionist who is the hero of the movie is forced, in the late 1950's, to leave the theatres of Paris to find new opportunities elsewhere as one generation is gradually replaced by more modern, fresher emerging artists. Thus the once famous out of luck magician, who is no longer young or in fashion is found, after an unsuccessful stint in London, settling in a small Scottish village ... There, he meets Alice, a young woman who will change his life by breaking his solitude when a surrogate father daughter relationship (although at times it could be anything) evolves between the two strangers.

From a hopeful opening the movie thereafter is guilty of plunging the viewer into deep lethargy, which ultimately turns into an indifference towards ether of two the main protagonists. What develops for much of the remainder of the movie is a near silent drawn out trudge punctuated by the most ridiculous take on Gaelic whose sole achievement is to accentuate its own irritation to the audience. Unfortunately after an hour the craftsmanship of The Illusionists visuals are not enough to draw a meaningful response to its intended sad conclusion other than being grateful that your own suffering has thankfully ended.

In conclusion The Illusionist falls far short of the promised masterpiece that was expected from almost a decade in production and illustrates the limitations of Sylvan Chomet as a noteworthy features Director.
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Beautifully drawn but sentimental, ponderous and pointless
keith-60429 August 2010
I was looking forward to this film, but was sadly disappointed. In common with Chaplain and many others, Tati fell into the pathos trap later in his career. Long drawn out, deeply unfunny routines, holding up what is essentially a non-story, do not a movie make. The only reason for the three stars is that the animation itself is undeniably wonderful. But as with 3-D and Dolby surround, it's only there to serve the story, which frankly bored me to death. A middle aged failure bewildered by modernity is a frequent theme of comedy performers, and they nearly all make you want to hit them over the head and plead with them to stop asking for our pity. This film was an exercise in animation, nothing more. The cloying, unending melancholy has nothing to brighten it or change direction. In essence, nothing happens. My companion liked it, saying it was a slice of real life, but I would argue that animation isn't about real life, and it certainly isn't enough to justify the money spent on it. If you want to see a great animated film, watch Toy Story 3. This is like a painting, a lovely adornment, but don't expect to laugh, cry or be moved, it's too predictable and empty. Sorry Jacques, sorry everyone, this one missed by a mile.
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Realism within a magical animation of exceptional beauty
laura_macleod20 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Life is hard and sometimes beautiful - this fact is a theme that runs through the beautiful animation called The Illusionist. Let's get the following fact straight; the animation is so beautiful it leaves one in awe. In an age of computer Pixar type stories that drown one's senses in garish images and voiceovers from Hollywood celebrities - The Illusionist is pure and and unadulterated. Enough has been said about the story on this site and the story is poignant and deeply felt by the director and aptly conveyed to the audience. It is not boring at all - but it takes its time to show you the pain of life and the beauty of kindness and continuing hope through the gesture of love and sharing. Remember all you cynics who judge the actions of the old man - it was the young girl who pursued HIM. Why? Because she saw his love and she saw it as a way to escape her misery and drudgery. There was nothing seedy in their connection at all. The backdrop of Scotland and Edinburgh was magical and true. Edinburgh is a magnificent dark old city where is rains MOST of the time. The black rock and imposing buildings were marvellously drawn and gave an immense depth to the story. What a fantastic place to set this story of pain and joy, reward and loss....the idea that Edinburgh was in any way insulted by this story is ludicrous. It was a celebration of Edinburgh's contrasts and the light of the city in rain or sun, night or day. It was a direct message to the range of human emotions that humans feel day by day. The magician had suffered great loss in his life, but it did not make him bitter or cruel; it made him kind and giving and even when he had invested so much love in the girl for no motive other than to GIVE; he was ready to give her the moment to pursue her youthful dreams of young love. As in all experiences of life - love and relationships are transient and the Illusionist shows this very well. The final scenes are sad because they deal with the fact that in life we cannot always have what we want or need. The Illusionist departs and the young couple are left walking along a rainy street in Edinburgh - the nature of young love is to see hope and light in everything; for those times of new love it is hard to see that life teaches one hard lessons. The road is long and can be at times beautiful and many times not. The Illusionist is one of the most beautiful stories to emerge in modern animation for a very long time.
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Lacking magic
patrickshore20 August 2010
Having seen it tonight I was left disappointed and I can't understand the acclaim this movie has been getting from the press for what is a very dull movie that fails to make an emotional connection. Although trying to visually mimic 1960's Disney, The Illusionist falls dramatically short once the spell of the odd animation gem is no longer suffice to save the tediously told story. Something more appropriate to watch in the background at home on Boxing Day whilst you read a book occasionally raising your head for the few visual highlights. Not a classic and not the best animated movie of the year which so far has to be How to Train your Dragon or Toy Story 3 with the later superbly depicting the emotions of coming of age and the passing of time that The Illusionist fails to deliver.
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Comic moments squandered
megron13 September 2010
I was intrigued by the idea of this film - an animated adaptation of a script written in 1956 by French physical comedian and director Jacques Tati.

Jacques Tati knew how to mix the sentimental with the comic. He had a wonderful sense of physical comedy, based on the close observation of human behaviour, and subtle, beautifully timed physical reactions. His on screen character was awkward but likable, often intensely interested in the people around him, but usually missing the point.

This kind of comedy is a difficult thing to pull of in an animated film, and, unfortunately, The Illusionist generally fails to deliver on the laughs that appeared to have been written into the script.

I think the central problem is the medium. Despite the painstaking realism and beauty of the backgrounds, the characters who perform comic actions are look and move like traditional "funny" characters. It's an easy trap to fall into, but it ruins the comedy. The comic vignettes in Tati's films usually involve characters who take themselves seriously but are funny to others. In the Illusionist, they are presented as "wacky" characters with exaggerated features and movements. Instead of being an absurd version of everyday behaviour, the comedy is reduced to a very tame version of cartoon slapstick.

The Illusionist, the "Tati" character, watches the antics around him with a kind of dumbfounded depression, very different from the lively, affable character we're used to in the Tati films - although I couldn't help thinking that this might be how Tati himself might look if he were watching this adaptation of his script. Instead of being inquisitive, and involved in the action, he seems to stand around blandly watching the hilarity of others. There are one or two exceptions. A scene where the main character gets a part-time job in a garage came close, and there's a perfect Tati moment later in the film where the character tries to ascend a staircase without stepping on the cleaner who is scrubbing the steps. But these moments were rare. Time and again, scenes that might have been hilarious are trampled over, and turned into Saturday morning slapstick or ironic pathos. The comedy is squandered.

It might be argued that this is more a tragedy than a comedy. But even here the emotional coldness of the main character makes him hard to relate to. He seems to have few passions or goals, beyond earning enough money to feed himself. There is a relationship between him and his female companion, but again the emotions run cool, and it is not clear why we should care about it. It becomes a tiring film about a tired man.

This film is about looks. It is not a film that seems to like people or derive any pleasure from watching them. The heavy use of wide angles give a cool, analytical feel, very different from the warm humanity of Tati films. The stars of this film are the city of Edinburgh, the sky, the sea, and the weather.
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Nice and sad and almost boring all along
vostf16 June 2010
It took 7 years for Sylvain Chomet to come up with a new animation feature. This already is something that builds up expectations very high. And for all the beautiful animation skills on display, Les Triplettes de Belleville was, above all, an heavily dark story with only light touches that served merely as stinging irony.

So what was I expecting in the Illusionnist? Not much. The visual/technical brilliance is here, the images are beautiful. That's all I was sure to get. Unfortunately the gloomy atmosphere is still dominating yet it's more melancholy than dehumanization.

THAT WHICH WE NAME STYLE I really think Sylvain Chomet, for all his technical talent, is over-rated. European critics are too pleased with gloomy stories and clean-cut and raw style: that's enough for them to praise an auteur. Although it's great to market a picture where there is no dialogue, Chomet is not Chaplin, and not even Tati. And Tati struggled to stay creative, half of his films are boring while the other half are masterpieces. Whith Chomet half of his movies are beautiful (the visual part) and the other half is dead-boring (the story, the characters).

So Chomet is only technically good and the critics have inflated his visual pessimism into Great Art. The worst in it is that he had 7 years to think he was really good and now I don't see how 2010 audiences will be cooed into admiring a flat backward-looking movie.

PS the 3D aerial Edinburgh shot is totally out of place and a lame waste of money
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Very Slow and Ultimately Unsatisfying
3xHCCH21 February 2011
I would not have heard about this film if it did not earn one of only three slots in the race for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. Previously, Oscar favorably introduced me to the fantastic "The Secret of Kells" via a surprise nomination last year. So I felt sure I also wanted to watch this film as well.

First comment would definitely be the look. The artwork had a very old and even faded feel to them. The characters themselves were not drawn in an attractive or memorable way. Second, the dialog, if you can call it that, was nothing more than indistinct mumbling in a foreign language with no subtitles. This was basically a silent film, as the story was told more by actions and not words. With these two characteristics alone, you know that this film would not really appeal to younger viewers who have grown up only knowing about the bright colors, cute characters and sassy dialogs of Disney and Pixar.

Which brings us to the story. The titular "Illusionist" is a lonely old vaudeville-style magician who travels around getting whatever gig he can get, from dingy theaters to house parties just to earn his living. Once in a remote Scottish village, he he impresses a young servant girl by "magically" giving her a pair of red shoes. Fascinated, the girl packs up and follows him, joining him to his next gig in the city. She would wish for something (like a stylish coat or stiletto shoes she sees in store windows) and he would try to preserve the illusion of magic by "conjuring" it up (even if it means taking up odd jobs on the side). Of course, you simply know he can't keep up this arrangement for very long.

The whole movie is about an hour and 15 minutes long, but I think it would have worked better as a short film. The feeling of loneliness and melancholy pervades the whole film from beginning to end. The humorous bits are very few and far between, and sometimes too black for comfort. Ultimately, the very slow pace, turgid storytelling, lame comedy and lackluster presentation makes this ultimately unsatisfying. I felt it did not do anything new or exciting to the field of film animation that would make it deserving of that coveted 3rd slot in the Oscar shortlist.
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