Reviewed by: John Walker
|Featuring:||Jean-Claude Donda (The Illusionist / French Cinema Manager), Eilidh Rankin (Alice), Duncan MacNeil (Additional Voices), Raymond Mearns (Additional Voices), James T. Muir (Additional Voices), Tom Urie (Additional Voices), Paul Bandey (Additional Voices), Jacques Tati (Monsieur Hulot)|
|Producer:||Django Films Illusionist, Ciné B, France 3 Cinéma (Paris, France), Canal+ (Paris, France), See all »|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Classics|
“from the director of ‘The Triplets of Belleville’”
“The Illusionist” is the story of an aging magician and his daily routine and struggle for sustenance. It is a story filled with drab and dark cityscapes, eclectic characters, and interesting images. One is instantly taken by the animation style of the movie. It has an old style “Disney” feel reminiscent of “The Rescuers” or something like “Anastasia”. Its nostalgic feel and look pay homage to past animation styles with detailed backgrounds and hand drawn characters, while intermingling some computer generated animation and live action vignette.
The story centers around the illusionist who performs for whatever venue might have him. His efforts are barely acknowledged or appreciated, by most. He struggles throughout the movie, whether with his “feisty” rabbit (trying to get it back in its cage) or with the daily hardships of just making a living.
During a venue at a country tavern, he meets a young woman who shows him genuine kindness, and he repays her with the same. They form a bond amid the harsh world and travel back to the city. She clings to him for hope, it seems. It is there that they meet interesting circus performers who share their inn. Sometimes funny, but mostly bittersweet, the movie neither comes to any great conclusion or to any tragic end. It is just a shining moment in each of their lives that leaves as quickly as it entered.
My wife did not want to watch after the first 15 minutes. She found it a little disheartening and sad. As the story went on, the main characters became more defined, and she found herself drawn in to the story. That is a good way to describe the film. It has interesting characters who come to grow on you, as they pass along their way.
Bear in mind that this is not a children’s story or a movie that contains strong Christian morals. Smoking, suicide, and drinking are themes that are in the movie and seem appropriate for the story they portray. I was uncomfortable with these themes. I think mainly because of my preconceived notions of what the movie might be like. There is no sex or violence shown, but there is the threat of suicide, and the movie ends with the perceived notion that a man and woman might end up living together without marriage.
There are strong redeeming qualities in the two main characters. They are genuinely kind and do not return the harshness that the world seems to give to them. The main character works hard and is willing to share the little he has.
Matthew 22:39 says, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (NIV). These two verses are played out by the main characters. Their actions really draw you to them, and we can see why they are important verses to live out in our lives. The contrast of someone who practices these things and someone who doesn’t, really makes the Lord’s Words ring even truer.
All in all, I would give the film a mild yes. Something like a 6 to 7 out of 10. It is not for younger children (nor would I think they would enjoy it all that much). I enjoy interesting animated movies, and this one was interesting, but not great. If you enjoy Charlie Chaplin or character studies, then this is a fine film for you. I left a little dissatisfied with the ending, but enjoyed the film nonetheless.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.