Yesterday I took myself to see the new animated film, The Illusionist, by Sylvain Chomet. I had seen a preview of the film and knew I'd have to see it.
The film is gorgeous, simply gorgeous! It's full of lush color and painterly touches, along with its old-style animation, along the lines of the best old Disney or Fleischer animations, only more beautiful. And the music is wonderful -- lovely French waltzes that carry you away. Here's the trailer; it'll give you just a taste.
The story is touching: M. Tatischeff, an older, slightly clumsy magician, is down on his luck. He takes any gig he can get, but the audiences are sparse because his style of entertainment has been superseded by rock and roll bands and sultry chanteuses.
He takes an engagement in the far north of Scotland, in a tiny village. Alice, a teenage girl who cleans in the pub where he's staying, is captivated by his performance and believes he can really make things appear out of the air. She decides to go with him to Edinburgh, where they live in a hotel (The Hotel Joe -- how could I not love this movie?) with other down-and-out vaudevillians. Their relationship is like a father and daughter, close and caring, two people against the world.
Alas, he cannot provide all the things she wants on his meager magician's pay. He takes odd jobs so that he can continue to buy her fine things: a new coat, high heels, a pretty dress. She cooks dinner and cleans... and begins to experience life in the city.
There are some lovely, humorous scenes throughout, like the scene where Tatischeff is worried that Alice had made a rabbit stew out of his pet bunny or the scene where he helps paint a billboard with an aerialist troupe. There's also a very very nice touch where he ducks inside a movie theater showing "Mon Oncle," a Jacques Tati film -- clever!
But the magic must end, alas, and I left the movie feeling both sad for the poignant ending, yet happy to have seen this lovely film.