Review of the Illusionist, directed by Sylvain Chomet

The Illusionist is a rather special film. It’s funny and moving and I left the cinema feeling as I had witnessed something genuinely worthwhile. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone.

The story is quite straight forward. An older man, the illusionist, travels from Paris to London, then to a small village in Scotland on the offer of a job from a drunk wedding guest. His career is failing, and he will take anything that will let him continue his art. While he visits this village, he meets a poor younger woman, a girl really, and they form a relationship of sorts when he buys her a new pair of pretty shoes. The man leaves and the girl follows him, seemingly hoping for a better life than the one she had left.

There is little dialogue in the film and it is told simply by expressions and actions. There are no long monologues that leave little to the imagination, and it is so much better for it. The audience can only come to their own conclusions concerning this couple; what they both expect from the relationship, where will it go? It’s elegant and delicate and calming and considered.

Also, revolving around the two main characters are others leading similarly melancholy existences in the cheap theatres and hotels. There is a sad clown and a ventriloquist in particular whose lives were heartbreaking.

Finally, the animation itself is striking. The Illusionist is hand-drawn, and the effort that must have gone into it is staggering. Even movement of a stage curtain is a joy due to the detail gone to.

I know it’s only on in selected cinemas, but if one is near you, make an effort to see The Illusionist; it won’t disappoint.

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