Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

The Illusionist is an animated feature set in the late 50s when show business is changing and Tatischeff, a fading French magician and illusionist finds himself one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. Forced to accept increasingly obscure venues, he ends up performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland. There he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who thinks his tricks are real magic. The two lonely strangers quickly bond and Alice follows him to Edinburgh. Their relationship is chaste and they fall into a father and daughter relationship and Alice keeps their home at a boarding house for vaudevillians. Flattered by her devotion the Illusionist continues to reward Alice with increasingly lavish gifts he has 'conjured' into existence. Desperate not to disappoint her, he cannot bring himself to reveal that magic does not exist and that he is driving himself to ruin working all night jobs to buy her gifts. When Alice eventually falls in love with a younger man she moves on with her life, and The Illusionist now untangled from his own web of deceit, resumes his life as a much wiser man. The movie was based on a Jacques Tati script and was adapted by Sylvain Chomet. The movie has exquisite images mixed with poignant humor which echoes of cinema history and a sense of having watched genuine magic. Worth the watch.

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