The Illusionist review

French animator Sylvain Chomet’s filmography spans a grand, almighty total of four films but he is already building somewhat of a legendary status. It has also been seven years since his last, and first, feature film. Seven years. That’s traditional hand-drawn animation, and dedication, for you.

Both in visual and narrative style, L’illusionniste is not as wild as (2003 feature) Belleville Rendezvous or (1998 short) La Vieille Dame et les Pigeons. On those fronts that makes it less interesting. But that’s very much personal taste. There are, frankly, breathtaking qualities that must be admired by any- and everyone. The quirky, stylised characters move with unfathomable grace against detailed watercolour landscapes of the likes of London and Edinburgh (where most of the film is set). This is certainly Chomet’s most beautiful film to date. That might not count for as much if it wasn’t for such a neat, touching story, masterfully told with no dialogue other than inconsequential mutterings.

With Ponyo and The Illusionist it has been quite a year for “old-school” animation. I hope it’s not another seven years before we are treated to something similar.

4 out of 5

23rd Aug 2010 | Official site | On IMDb