Friday, July 8, 2011
The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, 2010) -- B
Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist is not so much a blessing as a needed rebuttal to Pixar and Dreamworks animation domination. Certainly, the Jacques Tati scripted feature is made with impeccable charm, grace, and serenity, beautifully recalling not just a style of animation that prioritizes elegance over polemics, noise, and excess, but also an implicit critique of a knee-jerk pop culture that devours whatever novel product is laid before them. Tati's critique of contemporary diversion through technology (disabling accessible human connection), is perhaps more relevant now than ever. Not to imply that Chomet addresses such issues explicitly, but his anachronistic magician adequately fulfills this metaphor, caught between his own desires/convictions and the consistently (d)evolving artistic preferences of others. With hardly a line of dialogue (much like his equally charming The Triplets of Belville), The Illusionist meditates on a city's expansive beauty (Paris), human behavioral idiosyncrasy, and a bygone era's nostalgic charm, without turning sentimental. Essence is rooted in artistic tradition and a culture's past, so Chomet suggests looking back (through introspection, not thoughtless replication) in order to move forward.