February 13, 2011

The Illusionist - 2010

Director: Sylvain Chomet
Writer: Sylvain Chomet & Jacques Tati

A French magician in the 1960s travels to Scotland and develops a paternal relationship with a young woman.

As some may remember, Chomet was responsible for 2003's Triplets of Belleville, and his sophomore effort suffers from the same issues, or rather, issue: dialogue. Specifically, Chomet's allergic to it. I'd say there's less than 10 lines in the film's 80 minutes, and the majority of THAT is either in untranslated French or Gaelic, or taking place inside glass rooms that the "camera" wasn't let into. I'll give him the respect he deserves for getting as much story across as he does, but this lack of speech really limits exposition as well as makes some very interesting hypothetical scenes wholly absent, such as when the female lead stops a suicidal man from committing the final act by bringing him soup at the opportune moment. We immediately see her back with the magician, with no "mention" made of the event. The other, less significant issue I had was that every shot of characters is either a cowboy (thighs to head) or wide shot--this means NO close-ups or mediums, thus losing a great deal of reaction shots and the like. It's nominated for Best Animated, so I'll concede it has admirable qualities, but it's just not for me. C


  1. From the wikipedia article. "The film is based on an unproduced script written by French mime, director and actor Jacques Tati in 1956."

    ...Just Might explain the lack of dialogue. Maybe...?

    Either way, I think I will now watch this movie.