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

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

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...

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.