When it comes to French film, there are few filmmakers as influential as the iconic Jaques Tati. Â
Back in the â€˜50s, he allegedly wrote a script based on his strained relationship with his daughter, one that got lost in the shuffle after his death and supposedly made its way into his daughterâ€™s possession.
She then brought the script to French animator Sylvain Chomet to convert it into a full-length feature film. Â
Chomet took that script and made â€œThe Illusionist,â€ an animated silent film that stars an aging performer nearing the end of his career. The performerâ€™s illusion routine descends into insignificance, forcing his act to remote venues across the world.
At one of these locations, the man meets a young girl who becomes fascinated with his illusions, believing him to be a true magician. She excitedly follows him to his future venues and establishes a father-daughter relationship with the performer.
All of this is beautifully framed against the background of many a European metropolis that vividly pop off the screen through traditional watercolor animation. Â
Just as captivating as the look of the film is the cast of charming characters who interact with the illusionist along his journey. In typical Chomet fashion, the characters are quirky, hilarious and are prone to just act weird. Â
Itâ€™s amazing Chomet can get so much out of his characters without them having to speak any standard dialogue. Their actions establish their various personas just as well as words ever can. Â Â
Although I did expect â€œThe Illusionistâ€ to be a charming movie, I did not anticipate it to make me feel like a child who just found the mangled remains of my favorite action figure after the dog chewed it up.
â€œThe Illusionistâ€ may seem straightforward on the surface, but it boasts a beautifully moving coming-of-age tale, where magic can be found in the most ordinary of places. Â Â Â Â
Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at email@example.com and can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonberlinberg.
Coming next week:
Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart star as a married couple that tries to return to normal lives after a tragic loss. Kidman was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.