Film Review: Mesmerizing Beauty of Sylvain Chomet’s Gorgeous ‘The Illusionist’

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CHICAGO – Presuming the Academy makes the logical choices, the competition for the Oscar for 2010’s Best Animated Film should feature three of the best films of the medium in many years – “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and the least-heralded of the three, the beautiful “The Illusionist.” Most people already own the first two after immensely-popular theatrical runs, but Sylvain Chomet’s touching, lyrical gem could use the boost of an Oscar nomination. Anything that gets this lovely animated treat to a wider audience would be a good thing.

Sylvain Chomet, the director of the highly-acclaimed 2003 “Triplets of Belleville,” adapted “The Illusionist” from an unproduced script by the legendary Jacques Tati (“Mon Oncle,” “Play Time”). Chomet took the work and essentially turned it into something of a tribute to Tati; an easy feat given the fact that the story was semi-autobiographical. Chomet has claimed that Tati intended to make the film (live-action, of course) with his daughter Sophie, although there has been some controversy in the international community as to Tati’s true intentions. (He also had a daughter who he abandoned very young and some have read the piece as more for her than Sophie.)

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Illusionist” in our reviews section.

“The Illusionist” is a lovingly simple tale that features large passages without dialogue and plays more like a silent film than fans of modern animation might expect. It tells the story of an over-the-hill magician who goes from small venue to smaller venue as he watches rock musicians take the crowds that used to be thrilled by a rabbit coming out of a hat. His time is fading as his art form becomes less popular.

As one journey appears to be coming to a melancholic end, another is beginning. The magician meets a young girl named Alice who he takes under his wing. Where the illusionist sees a world that doesn’t need him as much as it used to, Alice sees one full of magic and wonder. Whether or not “The Illusionist” is a love letter to one of Tati’s daughters, it plays like a love letter to all young people about to realize the magic of the real world.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “The Illusionist” review.

“The Illusionist” was directed by Sylvain Chomet and written by Chomet from a script by Jacques Tati. It was released in Chicago on January 11th, 2011 and is rated PG.

The Illusionist
The Illusionist
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

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Tangled is a much better film than The Illusionist. Oscar nominations will be Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled. The Illusionist doesn’t get close enough to touch these three.

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