Monday, February 7, 2011

The Illusionist

No, this is not a review of the fantastic film of the same name from 2006 starring Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel.  (If you haven't seen that one, I highly recommend it!)  This is a review of a new animated film by French writer/director Sylvain Chomet, with original screenplay by Jacques Tati.  Chomet gained recognition from another animated film back in 2003 called 'The Triplets of Belleville', which was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.  Both films have a very original animation style.  These aren't cartoons for kids.  They're animation for the art house crowd.

This one is about a struggling French magician who meets a young girl and the two form an unlikely bond.  The film has very little dialogue, which fits right in with its art house feel.  The animation style is unique and the locations in Paris and Edinburgh are beautiful.

Even though this film is just now opening in limited release around the country, it still qualifies as a 2010 release as it opened in L.A. before the end of the year, and it's one of three Best Animated Feature nominees for the Academy Awards.  (The other two are 'Toy Story 3' and 'How to Train Your Dragon'.  This one doesn't stand a chance.  'Toy Story 3' is about as close to a sure thing as you get this year.)

Take note that this film is more art than story, and like most great artwork it probably takes some thought and feeling to fully appreciate.  For me, it got better upon reflection days later, and I look forward to seeing it again.  It may even be genius.  Or, perhaps it's just smoke and mirrors like a magic trick from any good illusionist.

Grade:  B+

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