The Illusionist is no How To Train Your Dragon, and it's definitely no Toy Story 3. However, it is a splendid piece of animation unto itself and a fine addition into the Best Animated Feature category this year. It was a much quieter and much humbler addition into the world of animated film, and it definitely should be respected for that reason. It also has charming, hand-drawn visuals in a world of computer graphics and I think it was very ambitious for it to have little dialogue. The only real weakness was that without the dialogue, the story was rather hard to follow. However, there was something truly poignant and magical about this film that I found myself loving.
The Illusionist is about a failing magician who is being pushed out of glory by the emerging rockstars in the entertainment business and can only get a job at an out-of-the-way Scottish farm. There he meets Alice, a young girl who believes that he has genuine supernatural powers. Alice follows him to Edinburgh, where most of the movie takes place. They share a room in a hotel full of fading performers and he lavishes his decreasing wages on expensive gifts for Alice, which leads him to more demeaning jobs. Alice soon accompanies herself with a handsome young man and after the magician sees them walking together, he decides to leave her money and a note that says "magicians do not exist".
The story is very hard to follow at the beginning, mostly due to the lack of dialogue, but it gets easier to follow towards the end. The story was rather humdrum, but the stellar animation and fantastic score still make up for it. The dialogue..well I can't really judge this seeing as there isn't much dialogue and its all in French, which I only have an understanding that up to Grade 10 has taught me. I wasn't really ensnared in the words so much as the pretty pictures though and the film had a hell of a lot of those.
The film offers some great hand-drawn 2D animation in a world of 3D computer graphics. Not to say that computer graphics aren't well done, it's just like the consensus said, this is for lovers of adult animation. That's one of the many reasons that this film didn't get wide release. The visuals are created by the person behind The Triplets of Belleville (which I haven't seen yet but I need to), and I hear the visuals in that are simply fantastic. I fear that I am belabouring this point, so I'm going to wrap up this review.
I would definitely recommend The Illusionist to everyone, especially lovers of adult animation. Children might not love this, seeing as there is no English dialogue and it sometimes drags, but I don't want to belabour any more points. The film has strong visuals, but a lagging story, but it is a strong film nonetheless. Toy Story 3 and HTTYD are the better films, but this definitely deserved its #3 spot in the Animated Features category. I just wish that there was five slots so that Tangled and Despicable Me could edge in there too. All in all, a very solid film.
**** out of **** A good friend of mine claims that two-dimensional animation is a dying breed. Few people are skilled enough to make good, hand-drawn animation anymore. And few artists are still living to tell their tale. You have Miyazaki and then you have the other far inferior, yet still talented Disney animators. Then you have director Sylvain Chomet, whose debut film was the ingeniously satiric and bitingly funny "The Triplets of Belleville". I liked that film a lot, … more
THE ILLUSIONIST Written by Jacques Tati Adapted and Directed by Sylvain Chomet Voices by Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin The Illusionist (written on a card): Magicians do not exist. It can’t be easy to be an aging magician, especially one who has to work so tirelessly just to get by. The title character in French director, Sylvain Chomet’s latest work of pure artistry, THE ILLUSIONIST, … more
I absolutely loved Silvain Chomet’s 2003 film, “The Triplets of Belleville,” so much so that I watched it twice in one evening. It was such a beautiful mix of unusual animation, humor, creativity and pathos. So when I heard that Chomet was working on a new film, this one from an unproduced Jacques Tati script, you can imagine my excitement. Sadly, “The Illusionist” is a big disappointment, and the ways it fails highlight what was so special about … more