The Illusionist

A painfully slow, uneventful, but very pretty animated film.  An aging magician bonds with a young girl who is one of the few people still captivated by his tricks.  With virtually no dialogue, this drama is essentially a silent film.  The story is a melancholy mood piece, the entire plot carried by musical cues.  Every now and then there’s a grunt or a mumble from a character to remind us that they’re human.  Undeniably beautifully drawn the old fashioned way, without the use of computers.  That’s admirable.  It’s pretty to look at, but then so is a bouquet of flowers.  Earning universal acclaim with critics championing it for its beauty, it was even nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars, edging out the much more deserving choices of Despicable Me and Tangled.  However I cannot mistake beauty for depth.  If that were the case, a sunset would be the most lovely film ever made.  How to explain the widespread praise this movie has gotten?  Perhaps it comforts the masses into feeling cultured and highbrow for supporting French Indie animation in a way that promoting a more mainstream (read Disney) motion picture does not.  I suppose it’s the same habit that causes  pseudo-intellectuals to exalt books like Pilgrim’s Progress or Paradise Lost over literature that the public actually enjoys.  I’m not afraid to say it.  Those books are boring and so is The Illusionist.

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12 Responses to “The Illusionist”

  1. Are you fucking joking? Just because something is “slow” and meditative, it means it’s shit? What are you reading, Tom Clancy or that overrated idiot Cormac McCarthy perhaps and you curse a poetic masterpiece like Paradise Lost is? I suppose you have no idea what The Divine Comedy by Dante is too and if you had, you’d have cursed it as well without even reading a chapter from it.

    For the record, please avoid Jacques Tati’s films too since the main character of this film is inspired by Monsieur Hulot, Tati’s alter ego in his brilliant comedies but I’m quite certain you have no idea who Jacques Tati is.

    • Oh dear. If you misread my review, I wonder how often you misread great literature. I never said the film was “sh–” as you so eloquently put it. I actually called it “beautifully drawn” and “pretty”. Did you think by referencing The Divine Comedy or the films of Jacques Tati, it would make you seem more erudite? I’m not impressed. It might have been nice if you would’ve taken the time to express just exactly why you enjoyed the film instead of attacking the reviewer.

      I find I must compliment John Milton, however. In the over ten thousand individual lines of verse that comprise his epic poem Paradise Lost, not once did he succumb to using the F word. I give him a lot of credit for that.

  2. magnolia12883 Says:

    Ok, I’m gonna try to be more respectful here than on Flixster… if it was boring to you it was boring. It doesn’t make you “wrong” it just buggers the imagination how you could be so off from – I dunno – everyone else (including me)… It might help to know some of the work of Jacques Tati – it might help to know some of the work of Sylvain Chomet… It’s definitely more for cinephiles then perhaps little kids though I think my 8 year old (almost) niece would like it… Not your typical animation – and for that I am greatful :)

    • I’ve seen The Triplets of Belleville so I’m familiar with the work of Sylvain Chomet. It didn’t help in my appreciation of this film. What can I say? It failed to connect with me.

  3. I still want to see it, Mark! hha :)

  4. I just don’t get it! I tried so hard to like it. People sitting behind us were snoring. It was pretty and the music was good. But come on, give me something. No connection made here.

  5. fernandel Says:

    Mark, you low-browed cretin. Next thing you know, you’ll be saying you don’t even like SHAKESPEARE!! I haven’t seen this movie yet (in fact I never even heard of it) but you can rest assured I’m GOING TO now! — just as soon as I get through reading Pilgrim’s Progress, Paradise Lost, and my absolute favorite, Joe Dante’s Divine Comedy. And I’m going to start watching all those marvelously-paced old French comedies too, like the ones that Jacques … what was his name? used to be in. Whoever the guy was, I know the flics he made were absolutely AWESOME. At least we learned THAT much in the “Auteurs du Cinema” course at UCSC!

    By the way, isn’t there some kind of a scum filter you can put in place for cases like this?

    • Yes it appears that knowing who Jacques Tati is, has become the new shorthand for the academic elite to determine who is intellectually worthy of one’s time. Careful with your ironic post because there are many who will think you truly believe Joe Dante wrote The Divine Comedy and scoff at your ignorance of Italian literature. More likely, however, they will simply be too busy reading every single last line of Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene and bore themselves to death.

  6. Wow, I’m surprised how much this disappointed you! Remind me, didn’t L’Illusionniste win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2010? I’ll have to see it.

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