The Illusionist | Chicago Reader

The Illusionist

Sylvain Chomet, the talented French animator who created The Triplets of Belleville (2003), has gotten his hands on an irresistible screen property: an original script that comic giant Jacques Tati wrote in the late 50s but never filmed. Chomet creates a wonderful cartoon version of Tati, playing not his familiar Mr. Hulot but an itinerant stage magician named Tatischeff (the filmmaker's real name) who goes on tour to Scotland and there adopts a sweet, orphaned teen as his surrogate daughter. The movie is rife with Tati's brand of drolly inventive slapstick (a clown soaps his face in a boarding room sink, discovers the water faucets are busted, and rinses himself off with his squirting lapel flower). It's also a warm and melancholy farewell to the music halls of Tati's youth, then being supplanted by the first bluster of teen culture and rock 'n' roll (Chomet contributes a ludicrously funny UK beat group called Billy and the Britoons). The dialogue is multilingual but largely incidental to the action; the physical comedy is gracefully rendered and often magical.

Credits

Director:

  • Sylvain Chomet

Cast:

  • Jean-Claude Donda
  • Eilidh Rankin

Producers:

  • Sally Chomet
  • Bob Last

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