The Illusionist [L'Illusionniste]

"Extraordinary"

The Illusionist [L'Illusionniste] Review


Less hilariously crowd-pleasing than The Triplets of Belleville (aka Belleville Rendez-vous), Chomet's new animated film, originally written by French master Jacques Tati himself, is a masterful story full of sharp wit, bittersweet emotion and startling tenderness.

In 1959 Paris, Tatischeff is an ageing magician in a world that's being taken over by floppy-haired musicians. After losing his latest gig, he heads for London, where he briefly works in a raucous pub then travels on to an isolated village in the Scottish Highlands. Eventually he settles in to do his show in a small theatre in Edinburgh. But a young country girl follows him into the city, and supporting himself is difficult enough without needing to watch out for her.

Chomet invests the film with heavy echoes of Tati's Mon Oncle, from the main character's physicality to the way he never quite fits in wherever he goes. The animation is packed with telling details that are utterly charming, from Tatischeff's feisty rabbit, who won't stay in his hat, to the leathery lounge singers he has to share the bill with. When the heartthrob band Billy Boy and the Britoons appears to steal his thunder, it's impossible not to recognise that grinding fact of life: we're all replaceable. And yes, one crowd is actually more impressed with an electric light than with Taticheff's effortlessly masterful performance.

And it's not only the gags that keep us watching. Chomet painstakingly recreates his settings on screen, giving them a sense of heightened realism that takes the breath away. The panoramas of Edinburgh are simply gorgeous, as are the astonishingly accurate details, down to the names and designs of real pubs. And Chomet's affection for Scotland (he has an animation studio there) is also clear in his hilarious renditions of sheep, cows and kilts.

Alongside the resonant story, the film is also a sharp satire of show business, looking at the soul-destroying aspect of selling yourself for fame, the tedious realities of marketing and the temporary nature of success. With constant visual jokes but almost no dialog, the beautiful hand-drawn animation vividly recreates illusions and plays with our perceptions, but even more importantly it finds real heart in its characters, creating a funny, warm story about true generosity of spirit. And there's even a set of acrobatic triplets on hand to make us smile with recognition.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Box Office Worldwide: $2.2M

Budget: $18M

Production compaines: Django Film, Pathé Films, Canal+, CinéCinéma

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Bob Last

Starring: as The Illusionist (voice), Eilidh Rankin as Alice, as French Cinema Manager

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.