Sunday, September 05, 2010

Film — L'Illusioniste

A new feature directed by Sylvain Chaumet (Triplettes de Belleville) to a 1956 screenplay by Jacques Tati. This 100+ minute animation is very clearly a Tati film -- it's almost done in mime, an absolute mimimum of dialogue -- with a strong air of melancholy under the veneer of humour (an example of the mood being the scene where the girl, who has attached herself to the middle-aged, slightly past-it stage magician of the title, serves up rabbit stew to him, and some of the other stage acts who share their digs, while he is surreptitiously looking for where the obnoxious creature which he pulls out of hats has gone). Although the CGI leaps out at you in a slightly obnoxious fashion in a couple of shots, for the most part it could be line and watercolour after the style of Oliver Postgate.

Its evocation of Britain (some London, a lot of Scotland) c1960 rings very true, both in the looks -- I'm sure there were photographic references underlying the scenery -- but also the cultural references, as the old music hall acts are elbowed out by the new rock'n'rollers exemplified by Billy Boy and the Britoons. And there are some more knowing, more contemporary, jokes embedded in some of the signage (it's very worth reading all the text, like the menu at the chippie, and the pawnbroker's hoardings).

And look out for the actual Tati to make a brief appearance, as well as the namesake central character.

Likely to be the best film I see all year.

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