'Illusionist' has classic-film feel
MOVIE REVIEW "The Illusionist" Fargo Theatre Rated PG for thematic elements and smoking 80 minutes 3 out of 4 stars With "The Illusionist," fans of the late, great and generally silent French comic Jacques Tati have what is, in essence, his final...
- Fargo Theatre
- Rated PG for thematic elements and smoking
- 80 minutes
- 3 out of 4 stars
With "The Illusionist," fans of the late, great and generally silent French comic Jacques Tati have what is, in essence, his final film. It's an animated farce in the Tati style, based on a Tati ("Mon Oncle," "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday") script.
The lead character, a tall, unflappable Frenchman of few words, looks like Tati. And since Tati rarely spoke, director Sylvain Chomet ("The Triplets of Belleville") has license to basically resurrect him for this quiet, clever and adorably whimsical cartoon comedy.
In the late 1950s, a veteran magician struggles to make a living in an entertainment world that has passed him by. "The Illusionist" can't hold an audience with his quiet and gentle tricks. Nobody wants to see a cranky bunny dragged out of a hat anymore.
But in an intimate setting, the guy kills. A wedding booking leads a drunken Scots bar owner to hire him for his pub. Thus, magician and bunny make the cross-channel trek to Scotland, where once again, our hero leaves them begging for more. It's a pity he can't just stay there, but no booking lasts forever.
And it's when he leaves town for Edinburgh that things get even more complicated. The poor, friendly and naive maid Alice stows away and follows him. He gets to the next big city and not only does he have himself and a rabbit to feed, but this woman-child who seems to think his magic is real, that he won't actually have to pay for the coat and shoes she covets in a store window.
Like Tati himself, "The Illusionist" feels like a relic of a different time. There are voice actor credits in it, but most of the words are soft and/or faintly garbled. The hand-drawn cell-animation is watercolor soft and charming. As is the Oscar-nominated film itself.