I went to see this last night and really enjoyed it. The graphics are beautiful, hand-drawn, based on a script written by Jacques Tati but never until now made into a film. What came as a wonderful surprise was the prominence of Edinburgh as the backdrop, a city that holds an important place in my heart, and one that I'm hankering to return to after about a 17 year absence. A happy anniversary coincidence to see it with the man I met there! The plot is uncomplicated and the dialogue, mostly incomprehensible, minimal. A gently charming and sad story. I'd love this to come out as a comic book.
We're going to see it this afternoon so I've tried not to read your comments (although I probably shouldn't have clicked on the topic in the first place as I couldn't hep but see Dominic's use of the word 'maudlin' which has now altered my expectations.)
Wonderful film. I much prefer this style over the Pixar super bright digital style. I didn't think it was maudling at all - certainly elegaic, Tati's farewell to the music hall, as the rock and rollers - Billy Boy and the Britoons! - take over. And as a father's farewell to his daughter very moving. It is packed with fabulous and funny detail - you always want to look around the whole frame to catch the marvellous inventive expressions and actions. I could watch it straight away again. Near 'silent' - but lovely cod dialogue, especially Gaelic. And as a paean to Edinburgh it couldn't be better - captures its hilly layers and gothic architecture - especially at night. Tati apparently never made it because it was so out of kilter with what his audience expected, and was possibly too close to himself, too personal. So it is a fitting tribute that Chomet has made.
Yes, I’d go as far as to say it is a masterpiece. An animated film which makes more real the sound of leather soles on pavement, the physical reality of old bone-shaker automobiles, and the unnoticed beauty of dilapidated hotels and theatres, than any live action of CGI movie could. And even the more grotesquely distorted and stylised characters had more life in them than their Hollywood flesh and blood equivalents. Absolutely exquisite.
I will definitely see this film either at the cinema or wait for it on DVD. All the reviews have been favourable, and animation is a new-found enthusiasm for me since discovering Japan's Gibli Studio in the last couple of years (and I'm a great Tati fan as well) so I look forward to seeing it.
It's a gorgeous film. Even better than "The Triplets of Belleville" which I also loved. It's a feast for Tati fans - like the old bugger returned from the grave to give us one last gift. (Also, see if you can spot the Monty Python reference which made me chuckle to think of French people 'getting' - clue: the spam sketch.)
Did you also spot the poster for Belleville Rendezvous in the film theatre?
Strange to think that it was Nick Park’s Creature Comforts that convinced Chomet that the animator’s was the life for him. Not that Creature Comforts isn’t brilliant, just that it’s so different from what Chomet does.
I think I must be entering The Cantankerous Years, or maybe I've always been hard to please. There are lots of things to like in the Illusionist. It's sweet and the animation is full of character. And no-one fell asleep! But to my slightly dull mind it is slightly dull. At 80 minutes, the story feels stretched beyond interest.
As far as I'm concerned, it's no masterpiece, but it does have some lovely moments. As a native of Edinburgh, I did enjoy the take on the city, particularly as it tended to avoid the obvious stuff such as the castle and dwelt instead on the local landmarks such as Jenner's department store and Arthur's Seat. Clearly the animators know and love Edinburgh. But, for me, the special surreal moment was watching the scene featuring the Cameo cinema...while watcing it in the Cameo!
Gordon, you and I should only go to the same films! I went to see this today in Brixton and agree with everything you wrote - very pretty to look at but very dull. If this was a graphic novel I would not have finished it. I did stay for the entire length of the film but found it overall rather patronising in its treatment of sad old vaudeville entertainers and the Scottish waif was so one dimensional she might simply have been a painting the old magician travelled with. Its so many years since I have seen a Tati i can't recall if they resemble this - surely they had more wit, brevity, energy? Only joke I noticed in this film was the pawnbroker being Brown & Blair.
I think the cartoon characters are meant to be ciphers and/or symbols and that the character development, such as it is, is meant to be provided by the observer (ie, in this case, the cinema audience) using their imagination.
I found myself watching the film more intensely, trying to read the thoughts of the two lead characters, and therefore their blankness was a magnet for me. They were almost like dancers in the sense that you wouldn't expect dancers to be three-dimentional, or expect to understand their motifs for interacting the way they do.
For me, the one problem I had with this film was that the girl was not really likeable. I kept wishing she wasn't quite so materialistic and so insensitive to the efforts of the older man who'd taken her under his wing. But that was related to the fact that she so utterly believed in his ability to magic things into existence out of thin air, and that in itself is rather charming naivety...