L’illusionniste (2010)

“L’illusionniste” (2010)

IMDb

the trick

There are some awkward things that the market laws and peculiarities make happen once in a while. This is a film that belongs in the pocket of animation followers, not mainstream animation, in the tradition of the great studios, but animation in the more meditative tradition of the once called fine arts. Animation as a form worth by its own materialization. In other words, the drawings are worth simply for existing, we can appreciate such a film for the flavour of its own world, as much as we can appreciate a sketch of Michelangelo regardless of the whatever he is showing. The particular basic skills of each creative leader goes nearly untouched to the screen where we watch the film. That’s what makes me look for author animation once in a while: the visual worlds are visceral and direct, as if the film was being drawn at the same time you watch them.

Chomet is a filmmaker whose personal world is worth visiting. His meditative approach is fully aligned with the narratives he chooses. Here that meditation found a perfect set in the rainy hills of Edinburgh, a city i’ve never visited but which i imagine must be much rougher than this one we have on film. the narrative begins with the magician wandering through different places, different countries, until he finds the one city that suits the mood the filmmaker wants to tell.

The self-reference is clear here: Chomet is the magician. The Tati double is for the people that surround him as Chomet is to us the audiences. You think the trick is about the rabbit and the hat? No, the trick is about the tricker. You think the story is about Tati’s script? No, the story is about what Chomet does with it. The master self-reflexive stroke here is, of course, the moment when our animated magician gets in a theatre to find a projection of Tati’s Mon Oncle going on. The distance, metaphorical and visual, between animation and the live-action film we get on screen accounts for the semiotic importance of this bit. The fact that we get to see the animated and the real Tati on the same frame accounts for the will Chomet had to make us compare both.

Much has been said about this Tati connection, how it gives birth to the animated character, and how it mimics Tati in his approach. I don’t make much of it, at least not in the terms that generally people have been putting into it. Tati certainly en forms the character, and inspires the moves, but the puppeteer is Chomet, not Tati. What we see are his moves, not Tati’s. And the pace, and visual narrative, all that belongs to Chomet’s world. But we are lead into believing we will watch Tati coming our of the grave. That’s the trick, that’s the illusion.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb

 

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