Monday, 23 May 2011

The Illusionist

I just watched a French film without any subtitles. Either my ability to understand French has taken a sudden leap forward or I watched a film that had no dialogue. Sadly, the latter is the case. Directed by Sylvain Chomet, the director of Belleville Rendez-vous (Triplets of Belleville), The Illusionist is a gorgeous animated film with virtually no dialogue but with a wonderful score, written by Chomet.

The film itself was written by Jacques Tati, still making films almost thirty years after his death. Originally written as a live action film starring Tati (who made such classics as Mr. Hulot’s Holiday and Playtime), The Illusionist’s protagonist is drawn to look and act like Tati. This protagonist is a late middle-age magician named Tatischeff whose shows play to small disinterested crowds, forcing him to move from city to city in search of work. People want to see rock bands, not magicians. When his travels take him to Scotland, he befriends a young woman who idolizes him and allows her to follow him and eventually live with him in a small apartment in Edinburgh (he sleeping on the couch). Tatischeff does what he can for the woman but his prospects continue to decline.

The Illusionist can only be described as a melancholy film. Even the gorgeous animation has a melancholy feel throughout. For fans of Tati, it suggests that the days when people adored films like Mr. Hulot’s Holiday are, like the days of magicians and puppeteers, behind us. The fact that critics appreciate The Illusionist far more than average viewers supports such a conclusion. People like me who think The illusionist is a masterpiece that could not possibly be given less than **** therefore run the risk of being called elitist film snobs by their brothers. So be it.

If the idea of watching a gorgeous melancholy animated film with no dialogue appeals to you (and I know there are people who enjoy that kind of thing), don’t miss The Illusionist. My mug is up.

1 comment:

  1. Elitist film snob (for the reasoning about critics vs. general viewers)