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The Illusionist: Trailer and Early Reviews

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 13, 2010 at 4:36AM

2-D lives! The Illusionist, the latest animated feature from the French animator behind The Triplets of Belleville, Sylvain Chomet, didn't make it to Cannes after it scored big in Berlin in February. Sony Pictures Classics scooped up the film, which is based on an unproduced screenplay by the late great writer-director-star Jacques Tati about a "dying breed of entertainer." Chomet drew a tall, gangly, elegant character much like Tati's 50s persona in such films as Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot.
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Thompson on Hollywood

2-D lives! The Illusionist, the latest animated feature from the French animator behind The Triplets of Belleville, Sylvain Chomet, didn't make it to Cannes after it scored big in Berlin in February. Sony Pictures Classics scooped up the film, which is based on an unproduced screenplay by the late great writer-director-star Jacques Tati about a "dying breed of entertainer." Chomet drew a tall, gangly, elegant character much like Tati's 50s persona in such films as Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot.

SPC, which did the honors on the Oscar-nominated Belleville, will push the film for Oscar consideration in the animated category after it opens on December 25. First it will play Toronto, where I will see it. The trailer and early reviews are below.

Thompson on Hollywood

Here are some Berlin reviews from:
Screen Daily:

The imagery excels at depicting less-harried times: as a train chugs over a trestle bridge in the country, its reflection in the water below is as stunning as the changing light over Edinburgh. And somehow the animated rain seems more real than the wet stuff in live-action films. The deceptively simple story (which bears some scattered similarities to Chaplin’s Limelight) is anchored in nostalgia for bygone traditions. And yet the theme of dedicated craftsmen (a clown, a ventriloquist, a magician) made obsolete by changing tastes (not to mention age making way for youth) remains relevant.

In Contention:

“The Illusionist,” French animator Sylvain Chomet long-gestating follow-up the 2003 Oscar nominee “The Triplets of Belleville,” confirms a truly singular auteur sensibility, while revealing a more disciplined artist and storyteller within. A streamlined character study, less deliriously eccentric in tone and structure than his debut feature, “The Illusionist” nonetheless boasts an emotional heft that handsomely repays its creator’s restraint.

Variety:

Following up his debut, the acclaimed animated feature "The Triplets of Belleville," writer-helmer-animator-composer Sylvain Chomet doesn't disappoint with his delightful sophomore outing, "The Illusionist." Based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati, the pic's tale of a French conjuror (modeled on Tati) who befriends a naive lass in late-1950s Scotland is a very happy marriage of Tati's and Chomet's distinctive artistic sensibilities. Auds, especially in Gaul, who don't expect animation to be aimed squarely at kids or to feature the latest technology will be utterly entranced by "The Illusionist's" old-school magic, but less adventurous viewers may need some persuading.

Here's an interview with clips with Chomet. "C'est Jacques Tati," he concludes. He enjoyed showing nature, and intimate scenes between characters. I also see a bit of Miyazaki and Van Gogh here.

This article is related to: Awards, Festivals, Genres, Video, Reviews, Oscars, Toronto, Animation, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.