27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
The magic isn't dead,
This review is from: The Illusionist [DVD] (DVD)
Don't get me wrong, I love Sylvain Chomet. Belleville Rendezvous is a masterpiece, one of the greatest animated films of all time. I was so excited when The Illusionist was announced, and from the previews it looked just as amazing.
And it is beautiful - the style is somewhat different from Belleville but in a lovely way. The backgrounds look like pen and ink wash, and the characters are, as always, wonderful caricatures.
However, I was disappointed - and it's hard not to be, with such high expectations after Belleville. I felt I was drawn more to the supporting cast than to the illusionist and his "assistant", who were slightly dull compared to the fascinating characters living in the background. There were times as well where I felt the silence was very forced: while in Belleville I caught myself not even noticing that they weren't speaking, there were moments here where it was painful. This story, I thought, was a little too complex to tell with meaningful looks alone, especially when there were so few close-ups or deviations from the standard long shot. Perhaps it's because I am not familiar with Tati's work, but I just didn't get it.
My final gripe is in the animation itself, where at some points the animation is assisted with 3D software. While I understand it makes the process easier, it was jarring and did not blend well with the hand-made feel of the rest of the film. This is particularly evident when the train passes over water or some of the scenes including cars. The animation didn't need to be that realistic - in fact the background work was quite stylized in places - so why they chose to do this is beyond me. It is not impossible to animate water or cars in 2D - old Disney movies are an obvious example - so why not do so?
But that's an incredibly picky point. While I am being quite critical, it is simply because it's Chomet. If this was anyone else or someone's debut, this is a fantastic film and I probably wouldn't have anything negative to say. But Belleville is a tough act to follow, and I don't think the Illusionist is comparable to it. It is most definitely worth seeing, and if anything it still proves that magicians are real - at least artistic ones.
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Initial post: 21 Aug 2013 16:57:14 BDT
Stephen C. Rife says:
I very much agree with your carefully worded critique of Chomet's The Illusionist. I had a similar disappointment, and pleasure, with this film for the formal reasons mentioned. I should mention I also had the treat (and great surprise, as you can imagine) of seeing it at the Cameo in Edinburgh, the cinema the protagonist ducks into at one point to encounter himself on screen in 'live' format. Several people in the screening room (I think it was room 2), myself included, instinctively turned in our seats at that moment.
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