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

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.