REVIEW: The Illusionist

This is coming from an Englishman but over the years, most foreign animated films don’t spring to mind only until awards are coming in especially the top ones (for example: Persepolis, The Triplets Of Belleville (which was also directed by Chomet), Waltz With Bashir and others. I think that could be because some of those are quite adult and do look it when you look at the posters or trailers as well as speaking in a foreign language. Anyway, when I found out that this was nominated for Best Animated Picture alongside How To Train Your Dragon and locked winner Toy Story 3 and having really liked a lot of animated films in 2010, I had high expectations for this one but I actually came out quite disappointed with this one.

There are some reasons which I will explain later in the review but I think the main reason was that the plot just felt empty and I don’t think there was very much inspiration, humour, beauty or emotion involved although I will confess that it was beautifully made and it is certainly is a very artistic film. Most foreign animated films aren’t 3D animated like we have seen from Pixar and DreamWorks animations but I think the animation in The Illusionist is really like one on its own because it is 2D animation but is quite dark and has a slight addition of animé to it despite it is in fact a French animated film.

Now that the theatres and large performance venues have been taken over by rock bands and pop singers, the illusionist has been forced to ply his trade at small gatherings in bars, cafés, and basements in order earn a living. One day, while performing in a small Scottish pub located on a remote island that has only recently been wired for electricity, the illusionist encounters a young girl named Alice, who is captivated by his otherworldly abilities. Alice believes that the downtrodden performer possesses genuine supernatural powers, and agrees to accompany him on a trip to Edinburgh, where he’s scheduled to perform at a modest, out-of-the-way theatre. Her affection and enthusiasm inspire the illusionist, who in turn uses his talent to lavish her with a series of extravagant gifts. Unable to muster the courage to tell his starry-eyed admirer the truth about his trade, the illusionist continues giving until he’s got nothing more to offer.

Well, I haven’t got a lot to say about the performances because the majority of it doesn’t feature very much speaking but when there is speaking; I don’t really have a clue what they’re talking and I seriously and literally had to rewind it about 3 times to understand what they were saying and I still had no idea; unless I am either going deaf or the actors involved are making bad attempts at speaking English. I found the illusionist character rather weak, to be honest, and on a few occasions I got quite confused with what was going on and what he was trying to achieve. I think the only thing I did sense was the possible love between him and the girl who he was living with.

Until now, I hadn’t seen anything made by Sylvain Chomet although I do intend to (need to see The Triplettes Of Belleville, though). Anyway, despite this is the first time I have experienced a film from this guy, I will not criticize him too much but I will say that this film felt empty and, quite frankly, quite heartless. This film really could have been great if there was solid character development, great music and a proper screenplay that adds beauty to the great animation. I think that is the only bit of credit I can give the entire film anyway.

Overall, The Illusionist is perhaps for me the most disappointing film of 2010 and despite I didn’t find it awful but not good either, I cannot understand how it beat Despicable Me, Tangled or even Shrek Forever After to the third Best Animated Picture nomination. The Illusionist is something that I don’t think everyone would love and I did want to like it but there were too many flaws that made me not like it. For those who prefer softer films, I would tell those specific people to give this one a miss but it really does take either a deep thinker or someone with an open mind to like it while watching it. See? There’s a tip for you when you watch it.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 21/05/2012.

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