If the reviews for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist are anything to go by, this delightful animated film is a must-see – it screens at the San Francisco Alliance Française on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal referred to its “Exquisite images, poignant humor, echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic”. According to The Christian Science Monitor, it’s “A breathtakingly beautiful achievement in every way”.
Chomet’s follow-up to his 2003 animated film The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist is based on a script which French comic genius Jacques Tati wrote as a letter to his estranged daughter, but was never produced until it was brought to the screen in Chomet’s unique style of hand-drawn animation in 2010.
Set in the 1950s, the film tells of an aging magician named Taticheff (Tati’s real name) who is struggling to make a living against the competition from television and rock bands. He moves from Paris to London, and then heads north to Scotland, where he comes across a Alice, a young chambermaid, in an encounter which changes his life.
Included in the six awards won by The Illusionist for Best Animated film, were those from the 2011 César Awards, the 2010 European Film Awards and the 2010 New York Film Critics Circle Awards. It received 29 nominations, among which were those from the 2011 Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards Scotland, and The Evening Standard British Film Awards.
Referring to The Illusionist as “an intricate jewel”, The Guardian describes it as “utterly distinctive and beguiling”. According to IndieWire, “It’s both gorgeously animated and totally accessible”, and the San Francisco Chronicle described it as “a remarkable movie: lovely, slow-paced and almost silent, rich with pathos and deft comic gestures”.
The Illusionist can be seen at the Alliance Française, 1345 Bush Street, on Tuesday, August 9, at 7.00 pm. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.