(PG) Madman DVD/BD
The Illusionist is the tale of an aging, solitary French magician who has become increasingly irrelevant in an entertainment industry dominated by rock stars.
Looking for work, he packs his bag of tricks and an unruly rabbit and heads to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he strikes up an unexpected friendship with a young girl that ultimately changes both of their lives.
It begins strongly but becomes eerily similar to watching my little sister play (the computer game) The Sims. I couldn’t understand what the characters were saying and I began to have zero involvement or interest. Repetition and gloom threaten to weigh it down but, fortunately, I persevered and was rewarded.
There is hardly any dialogue in this film but its whimsical nature still manages to speak volumes. From the subtle humour to the quaintness of the characters, much is said and the ending packs a truly emotional punch.
The traditional, hand-drawn animation is saturated in an impressionistic, watercolour palette and is truly a pleasure to behold. The best part is the stunning vistas of 1959 Edinburgh, from the charming city to the lush countryside and the glistening water.
The Illusionist is incredibly well crafted and received a nomination for Animated Feature Film at the 2011 Academy Awards, though it lost to the unstoppable Toy Story 3.
There is a great sadness in watching the magician left behind and struggling to adapt and to find a balance between denial and hopelessness.
Sometimes, like in the case of the young girl who genuinely believed in the magic of her friend, ignorance is bliss. But, when the world deals you too many blows, it is easy to become jaded.