The Illusionist - Movie Review
I once watched a magician pass a rubber band directly through another, and although I know it was probably a simple trick, for the life of me I have no idea how he did it. Especially when I held the other rubber band myself. The art of close up magic lies not in the great reveal, but in the technique itself, which lies predominantly in the subdued hand of it's executor. We are not so encumbered by how the rabbit came out of the hat, as to how the rabbit came into our line of sight without our perception of it. It's really about the slight of hand. The Illusionist is one of those rare films that focuses entirely not upon a trick based entirely upon the perspective of the viewer, but upon how the illusion was created by the manipulator. Perhaps manipulator is too harsh of a word...
Here we are granted the illusion of a provider, or a father figure, who grants his follower with whatever she so desires, as long as she does not require the father himself to provide his insight. After all, a magician never reveals his secrets. For her he provides her shoes, her clothing, her food, and yet he remains somewhat of a mystery. How strange it seems that he works a second job as a caretaker for the automobiles of the wealthy, miraculously removing oil stains with the most obvious equipment at his disposal, be that rain itself. And yes, he sells out, using his talents to sell brassieres and stockings in store front windows. Do his actions justify the dismissal of his follower? We may say no, but success for some may be defined as otherwise.
L'Illusionniste is an animated film unlike any that you might have seen. It requires no real subtitles or audible language, and unlike it's predecessor The Triplets of Belleville, it requires no surreal visuals to engage it's audience. This is a film that is based upon the subtleties of human interaction. If you were to attend a class in animation you would probably be asked to animate a rock. I think if you were to ask the director of this film, Sylvain Chomet, you would find that there are a great deal of subtleties you would never have thought of.
The Illusionist in this film is no hero or villain, in reality he does no harm. He is never revealed to be authentic, nor a fake, he simply is presented as a genuine showman who presents himself as he is. As with any illusion, the question as to it's authenticity is placed within our hands.