The Illusionist is a 2010 French animated film based on an unproduced script allegedly written by French mime, and actor Jacques Tati in 1956. The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film in the 83rd Academy Awards.
The Illusionist tells the story of a French illusionist and stage entertainer who suddenly finds himself out of work after emerging rock stars have taken the limelight. He travels to Scotland to find work and eventually comes across a young girl who instantly becomes a fan of his magic tricks thinking they are real. The girl eventually follows him and they go on an adventure that will teach them about the harsh realities of life.
This french film features very few lines of dialogue spoken in a somewhat undistinguishable manner in French and Gaelic. But here’s the wonderful thing, despite the almost total absence of dialogue, this film exudes depth no amount of expository dialogue will ever deliver. That is the beauty of this film. Every animated frame, from the simple but convincing movements, to the expressive hand gestures and facial expressions give this film a unique personality and serve to tell a story. The attention to detail is indeed breathtaking. You will be stunned at how this simple form of presentation will enthrall and move you. Even the minimalistic but effective background music serve to bring life to this world of very few words.
Judging this film is rather easy given its very simple premise and presentation. Those expecting heavy drama or some thought provoking themes ala the Ghibli films will be disappointed.
This film feels like a live action indie movie turned into a poignant animated film. It’s a story about life and moving on, and for something that just clocks in under 75 min., this short but moving film is highly recommended.