French comic-book artist/animator Sylvain Chomet’s first feature, the irresistible Triplets of Bellevue, was a worldwide sensation, and received two Oscar nominations, including one for Best Animated Feature. His follow-up, The Illusionist, was Oscar-nominated in that category also, and is another triumph of glorious hand-draw animation. Based on an unproduced script by French comic legend Jacques Tati (who intended it as a live-action movie), and starring an animated version of Tati himself, the film is set in Scotland in the late 1950s, where forlorn, down-on-his-luck French magician Tatischeff (Tati’s real surname) lands a modest gig in a pub. There, he meets innocent domestic Alice, a naïve lass who believes Tatischeff’s tricks are genuine magic. The aging conjurer doesn’t have the heart to tell Alice the truth, and a tender father-daughter-like relationship develops between them. À la Triplets, The Illusionist is poignant, gorgeously drawn, and employs (à la Tati also) an ingenious aural design using next-to-no dialogue. “Old-school magic ... A very happy marriage of Tati's and Chomet's distinctive artistic sensibilities ... A thrilling exercise in retro aesthetics, from the pencil-and-watercolour look to the 2D animation that harks back to mid-1960s Disney” (Leslie Felperin, Variety). Colour, 35mm. 80 mins.
"Sylvain Chomet's animated feature began as an act of devotion and became a thing -- a fable, a tone poem, an elegy -- of ethereal beauty."Wall Street Journal | full review
"The gentle delights range from the depiction of late fifties' Edinburgh with the milky light and gothic-influenced architecture, to the clever evocation of Tati's bumbling, comic rhythms."Globe and Mail | full review
"For its 80 minutes, the movie creates the illusion that not just Tati but his form of cerebral slapstick lives."Village Voice | full review