Rated PG for thematic elements and smoking, 85 minutes
Soft-spoken but wistful "Illusionist" tells a sad tale
"The Illusionist" shouldn't be confused with the 2006 Christian Bale thriller "The Illusionist." Though both are about magicians, this is an animated story from Sylvain Chomet, who directed the fun tale "The Triplets of Belleville" a few years back. It's a pensively wistful, unique tale with minimal dialogue; though suitable for children, adults will get the most out of the emotionally rich story of a magician who's lost his passion.
An aging French magician is forced to leave his homeland and now lives in Scotland with a young woman he met there. Alice is a teenage girl with all her capacity for childish wonder still intact. She longs to be a real woman without realizing the day to stop pretending is fast approaching. She doesn't know yet that she loves The Illusionist like she would a father; he already knows that he loves her as he would a daughter. Their destinies will collide, but nothing - not even magic or the power of illusion - can stop the voyage of discovery.
"The Illusionist" is Chomet's enertaining but intelligent, sad tale of love, growing older and life changes; it's an unconventional animated tale filled with some beautiful images. Based loosely on the life of French artist Jacques Tati and his daughter, it's really a father-daughter love story set against the backdrop of Scotland. It's also nominated for Best Animated Film at this month's Academy Awards, a surprise but worthy nominee in a year filled wih great animated films.
The animation is much like a painting or drawing that comes to life; the audiences is actually engaged more by the minimal dialogue and Chomet is able to draw you into the downbeat story, though that lack of dialogue and depressing story may not be for everyone. If you enjoyed Chomet's "The Triplets of Belleville," you will enjoy this too as it has a similar tone and scope to it as that film. Also, please know that while it's animated, know that young ones may get easily bored with it.