The Illusionist, Charming and Magical

Just nominated for an Academy Award The Illusionist rounds out the candidates for Best-Animated feature.  I like the film for it’s old style flat animation and the storyline.  If you saw The Triplets of Belleville, another Oscar nominated feature several years ago, then you will get the same feel with this film.   Is it the Best-Animated film for 2010? Not if you like the modern CGI animation laden leaders that feature 3D with all the eye popping special effects.

The Illusionist performing at a Theatre

The movie centers on an old vaudevillian magician who has outlived the popularity of his wondrous talent but still opens acts in playhouses of Paris, France.  So he sets out for other cities in countries that may still show him the respect he deserves.  Landing in London he gets hired to work his craft during intermissions of houses that feature rock bands.  During one evening he runs into Alice, the young lady who cleans his dismal dressing room.  Seeing her plight, the illusionist decides to help her see a better side of life, even it becomes a hardship.

Illusionist with Alice

The Illusionist shows how one man, no matter how down on his luck, shows his love by sacrificing for another.  Writer/director Chomet takes you inside the soul of his illusionist in the ebb of his life and projects the loneliness, warmth and goodness in this character. Chomet then introduces the orphan girl Alice, providing the Illusionist a reason to continue his life becoming a father figure for the teen.  The film never gets too maudlin yet comes close to being a little overly sentimental.

There is very little dialog in the film so the different languages spoken should not be a problem.  In fact, most all the conversations are done in mime with gestures that drive the point across as to what the characters are saying.  Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville used the same type of presentation and became a hit worldwide.

The film is rated PG for thematic elements and smoking, but should not be a problem for mature children.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A charming film with a good message. (B)

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com