The Illusionist

There are some times that I do want to live in LA or NY, and usually those instances have to do with movie releases. (Apparently we have to wait for Blue Valentine an extra two weeks. C’mon people! The Bay Area needs its post-holiday relationship wallowing, too!).

I’m lucky enough that my mom lives in LA, so I was able to catch a film I had been looking forward to for quite some time: The Illusionist, an animated movie based on a script by Jacques Tati.

The film is directed by Sylvain Chomet, who also directed one of my favorite animated movies, Les Triplettes de Belleville. Chomet’s animation style is more distorted, more grotesque than the smooth-cheeked 2D Disney characters we have grown up with (he actually has many thoughts on 3D vs. 2D which you can read about in an interview with The Playlist).

The Illusionist is not as clamorous; it’s actually a quietly beautiful movie, with lovely backgrounds of 1940s Scotland that are as gentle as watercolors. It follows the story of a French magician (based on Jacques Tati, the man) whose act is falling flat to audiences entranced with t.v. and rock & roll. He travels to a small town in Scotland, where a young(ish) girl sees his act and believes, quite sincerely, that he can practice magic.

I read afterword that this script was Tati’s way of reaching out to an illegitimate daughter that he never got to know. As to the truth of that, I cannot say, but the movie does capture love and loss and growing up…. and in so few words, too! The characters barely speak, partially because they do not speak the same language, and partially because there really is no need.

I can’t recommend this movie enough. My family and I saw it after the holidays, and we were all left the richer for it.