Sploich's Movie Review of Illusionist, The ( illusionniste, L' )

Rating of

Illusionist, The ( illusionniste, L' )

Sploich Reviews The Illusionist (2010)
Sploich - wrote on 03/06/11

I wasn't a big fan of Sylvian Chomet's last film, The Triplets of Belleville. I thought it was okay but I had way too many problems with it. In his second major directorial effort, he seems to have fixed a lot of the problems in Triplets, only he has created a few new ones in the process.

The Illusionist is about a magician who is coming to terms with the fact that his is a dying trade. Despite his agents' efforts, his gigs are constantly less glamorous, leading him from performing on stage in front of a few loyal fans to performing in bars for the uninterested. Along his sorrowful journey he encounters a young girl who becomes infatuated with his talent. The two continue on the road to nowhere as the illusionist's dwindling career becomes nothing more than a hobby, if even that.

This movie is almost unnecessarily depressing. It is because of this however that the film is so fascinating. As you watch the magician go along, trying desperately to find any way to sustain his livelihood, every time he gets a new opportunity you begin to root for him, as if maybe this might be his big break. Without spoiling anything, however, the fact remains that his career is pretty much worthless. The film takes place in a time when people were becoming less interested in live, talented acts and more interested in rock bands. Every step of the way you feel the heartbreak felt by the magician. At the same time we also follow the girl, who is just beginning to put together her future. With the help of the magician, she is able to make her way in the world more and more as the magician is able to survive less and less. The parallels are used well and the great pacing of the film helps things keep moving nicely.

Chomet's films have a very distinct style to them that I heavily admire, both visually and in its storytelling. Little things are added to scenes for either comedic effect or just to keep things flowing and it creates a sweet charm, even when the story may be getting pretty melancholy. His films are slow paced, though unlike The Triplets of Belleville where the pace was painstakingly slow at points (albeit intentionally), here things move more fluently, always keeping you entertained.

Not to keep up the constant comparisons, but I definitely enjoyed The Illusionist a lot more than Triplets. As I said, it fixes a lot of the problems the he had with his first film, pacing especially, but the fact that the movie is such a downer certainly takes points away from it. Still, this is a really entertaining film that shows that we probably have not seen the last of Chomet.

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