Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Illusionist 2010

"Although nothing really changes, that doesn't mean you don't get left behind."

My daughter Mercy and I went out to see this tonight. You all probably know this, but it is based on an unfilmed script by Tati, the director of Mon Oncle and Play Time. I haven't seen any films by Tati, but I can see the influence of early film here. First of all, for all intents and purposes, it is a silent. And although it is about an older man caring for a younger as if she were his daughter, so without a romantic element, the main relationship has the flavor of Chaplain's Modern Times or City Lights.

I could see this being a classic silent film, and frankly, I think that animation is the perfect medium for this style of cinema. It is very reminiscent of the first half hour of Wall-E, and we can see Pixar using this same style of cinema, to even greater effect. But The Illusionist, instead of pressing for the quick plot or the quick laugh, is slower and yet still very entertaining, and thus it is utterly charming. This is a quiet film, and at first you wonder what it is about, then you wonder if it has a point, but it seduced me by the end. And it won me over with the ending. How wonderful and sad and touching. Passages of life and all that.

Nothing deep here, just a fine story well told. 4/5


  1. I think there's a lot going on here beneath the surface. From the social commentary to the nature of living in a world that no longer values what you do, I think the film hits upon a lot of interesting themes.

  2. It is interesting that I have been thinking about this film over the last week more than any other, and I have to agree: there is more going on here than it seems on the surface. (A couple spoilers below, so if you haven't seen the film, beware):

    There is the theme as the magician-as-father. The young child thinks that the parent can meet all of her desires by some kind of magic. Of course, he knows that it is hard work, but why spoil the magic for the child. But once the child matures, it is important for her to know that "magicians don't exist" and so see how the "trick" of real life works.

    There's the theme you mentioned of the world moving on. This is simply a fact of old age. What was important to the world is no longer important to them. They move on, and so what we gave our lives for no longer seems significant.

    And there's the theme of second chances. We didn't do what we should have when we should have done it. But for some people, there is a second chance. Even as the illusionist had the opportunity to raise a daughter that was not his own because he was so focused on his work that he never raised his own daughter.

    A powerful movie, really. And the more I think about it, the more I think that it may be the best 2010 film I have seen.