The Illusionist
Don’t tell me that his “niece”. I’m onto this game.

Theatrical Release Date: 01/21/2011
Director: Sylvain Chomet


Not exactly ‘standing room only’.

Made by Sylvain Chomet, the director of “The Triplets of Belleville”, I’m sure there was much hope and optimism about “The Illusionist” in a fairly sparse field of animated films in 2010 (limited release last year).

The story revolves around a prestidigitator traveling across the UK, who happens upon a young girl with dreams of going to a big city with this man who seemingly can perform real magic. They form a father/daughter bond almost instantaneously and feed into the emotional needs each has developed. As she begins to become more self-sufficient and he begins to regret allowing her to believe in magic for so long, the pair begin to grow apart – in that organic parent/child relationship kind of manner.

I can imagine that many critics will find the effort charming, and I do too in a way, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s entertaining. This is clearly not the sort of fare you’re taking small children to and one must remember that just because a film is made via animation, it doesn’t mean that the work is aimed at your hyperactive six year-old.

I suppose that’s where my viewpoint strays from those who are far more intellectual and mature. While I appreciate adult themes and richly developed characters (which in recent years has meant me thanking Pixar for their efforts), I’m still not at the point where I enjoy watching a subtle, almost poetic story unfold with virtually no dialogue and almost as little plot (hence I didn’t bother to mention any of the voice acting since it’s basically nonexistent).

The animation is done in a very beautiful, 2D hand-drawn manner; a welcome change from the 3D CGI animation that dominated the genre currently. Still, while the adult in me can appreciate that element, the hyperactive six year-old in me has trouble maintaining a level of focus without more noise than a score than seems to stretch one set of notes from beginning to end and a few odd crashes and yelps. I’m not proud of this but there it is.

“The Illusionist” does have a certain charm and might have made for a wonderful short film, but stretched out into feature length, there simply wasn’t enough material for my feeble mind to enjoy the time spent and so I’m giving it a 2.5 out of 5.

2.5 out of 5