Too Slow and Episodic
Starring: The Voices of Jean-Claude
Donda, Edith Rankin, Jill
Aigrot, Didier Gustin,
Frederic Lebon, Tom Urie
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 80 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Sylvain Chomet
Executive Producer: Philippe Carcassonne, Jake
Producer: Bob Last, Sally Chomet
Writer: Jacques Tati, Sylvain Chomet
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
Set in the late 1950s and shot without much dialogue, the story gets started when the magician, having worn out his welcome in France, traveling to England to perform. A drunken Scotsman catches his act in a tent at a small bazaar and invites him to a small village there.
At the small Scottish village, located on a remote isle, the locals seem to appreciate his act more. There, the magician befriends a poor teenage girl, Alice, who seems to be about 17. Seeing that she only has boots to wear, he buys Alice a pair of shoes and convinces her that he conjured them up. When it comes time for him to leave the village, Alice follows him.
Alice notices a sign for Edinburgh. She convinces the magician to find work there.
They find a medium-sized music hall and a hotel filled with other performers, including three acrobats, a ventriloquist who only speaks through his dummy and a sad clown. Everyone becomes friendly. Alice even saves the sad clown from committing suicide by giving him a bowl of the soup she’s made. Meanwhile, in perhaps the movie’s funniest scene, the magician is suspicious of the meat in the soup, because he cannot find the rabbit he uses in his work. (SPOILER: Not to worry, though, the rabbit finally does show up, alive and well.)
Alice is very demanding, however. And, the magician can’t help but buy her a nicer coat, a nice dress and a fancy pair of high heels. All the while, he cannot bring himself to tell her that magic does not exist or that he’s driving himself to ruin trying to buy her gifts.
Eventually, Alice grows up, finds a man, and she and the magician part ways. After leaving a note telling her magic is an illusion, the lonely magician returns to France a wiser man.
THE ILLUSIONIST is too episodic and too slow to captivate a mass audience, despite the beautiful care depicted in the animation. Thus, the plot still needs a lot of work (for comparison, just look at the first part of Pixar’s UP, which manages to enthrall and move without lots of action or cartoon violence).
There’s not much objectionable content in THE ILLUSIONIST, however. The biggest things are the drunken Scotsman and the little story of the sad clown who considers hanging himself when Alice suddenly arrives with a bowl of soup that makes him go on living. That said, the movie lacks a strong moral center, the kind of thing that makes the best Pixar movies soar far above their competition.
THE ILLUSIONIST is too episodic and slow to captivate a mass audience, despite the beautiful care of the animation. Thus, the plot needs a lot of work. There’s not much objectionable content in THE ILLUSIONIST, however, except for some drunkenness and a minor character who contemplates suicide but is interrupted. That said, the movie lacks a strong moral center, the kind of thing that makes the best movies soar far above their competition.