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The Illusionist (L'illusionniste) (2010)



Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 120
Fresh: 108 | Rotten: 12

An engrossing love letter to fans of adult animation, The Illusionist offers a fine antidote to garish mainstream fare.


Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 28
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 4

An engrossing love letter to fans of adult animation, The Illusionist offers a fine antidote to garish mainstream fare.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 15,484

My Rating

Movie Info

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder in the late 1950s, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafés. Then, while performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever. Watching his performance for the excited villagers who are celebrating the arrival of electricity on

May 10, 2011


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All Critics (120) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (108) | Rotten (12)

The film ends on a note of graceful, heartbreaking beauty that Tati would have admired for its lack of sentimentality. A lot of what precedes that ending, though, is precious and slight and a little too fanciful.

February 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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This is a remarkable movie: lovely, slow-paced and almost silent, rich with pathos and deft comic gestures.

February 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
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The Illusionistis magical in more ways than one.

February 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
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The story has enough sentimental schmaltz to grease a locomotive.

February 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Comments (5)
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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A lovely appreciation of Tati and a loving, bittersweet look at the end of the 1950s, before entertainers like the magician of the title were displaced by rock bands and other more visceral acts.

February 3, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
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A French import that's long on grace notes and wry humor, it eschews flash and opts for heart to great effect.

January 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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An 80-minute, hand-drawn animated French film without dialogue and with one of the most depressing finale acts ever committed to celluloid: this is The Illusionist. It's also some sort of divine masterpiece.

September 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass

There's plenty of crack-a-smile humor, but the underlying mood recalls the diminuendo stretches in a Jacques Tati film.

July 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Pictures speak louder than words, and what 'The Illusionist' speaks loudest about is the notion that what we do for a living is not nearly as important as how we choose to do our living.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

Hand drawn animation that is as soft and charming as the film itself.

January 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

Director Sylvain Chomet manages to rouse a lot of smirks and smiles through the small nuance and inferences that were Tati's signature.

October 18, 2011 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

Whilst they hardly say a word, I felt much sorrow for these two lonely characters and the changing world in which they find themselves.

August 28, 2011 Full Review Source: ABC Radio Brisbane
ABC Radio Brisbane

Funny, sweet, nostalgic and ultimately heartbreaking.

August 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

Chomet makes good use of incidental showbiz characters, acrobats and ventriloquist in particular. He also includes some spectacular sweeps of urban scapes, revelling in the mastery of his craft

July 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The exquisite illustrative signature style of Sylvain Chomet leaves a haunting impression in this whimsical tale about an illusionist who delights a young girl with magic

July 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

... A glorious revival of the neglected art of near silent comedy.

June 30, 2011 Full Review Source: The Ooh Tray
The Ooh Tray

It gets a little too submerged in pathos for its own good sometimes, though, and could use a little more humor with its nostalgic tone, [but it's] an expressive and lovely film.

June 5, 2011 Full Review Source:

... a delicate and delightful piece of old-fashioned hand-drawn animation where character is in body language and personality in the "performance."

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source:

Mostly worth seeing for its elegant "old school" cels. However, the relationship between the elderly magician and the girl who tags along with him is never very moving despite all the intentions of the screenwriter and director.

May 25, 2011 Full Review Source:

A beautifully crafted, nevertheless slight animated feature.

April 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

A remarkably uncomplicated story -- a beautifully uncomplicated story, really -- about the love between daddies and their little girls.

March 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

To give Tati his posthumous chance to express a very sad story may have been Chomet's only true course, and, to be honest, the film is beautifully, thoughtfully realized.

March 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

The story is rather cold and uninvolving, but the very look of the movie is striking and never dull.

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

So wistful it just about dissolves as you watch it

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Silence has rarely been so telling.

March 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Moviedex | Comment (1)

Like Chomet's "The Triplets of Belleville," it's a lovingly crafted animated film that invites the audience to luxuriate in the hand-painted visuals, to chuckle at the small jokes stuffed into the corners of the film.

March 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Audience Reviews for The Illusionist (L'illusionniste)

A magician and a cleaning girl travel and attempt to make a life at his dying art.
Predominantly silent, this animated film has moments of charm, but mostly its slow pace and lack of substance makes for a dull time. The final moment, with the illusionist's self-abnegation, wreaks of over-sentimentality, and while I might attempt to identify with it, I do so in only most maudlin way.
Artistically, the animation is anti-realistic and cartoonish. It's hard to take the themes as seriously as the director would wish considering how the medium is the message in this case.
Overall, though it might strike a few fancies, mine is not one of them.
October 19, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

three stars
September 4, 2012
MisterYoda ?

Super Reviewer

For its beauty and my expectations, high expectations, "L'illusionniste" is one of those films you just have to watch in a movie theater. Unable to do it, though, I had to go against Tati's 'principles' and watch it as only our modern time allows: the big screen was replaced by my laptop's one. Convinced that it was the reason of my disappointment, I watched it for the second time. The very beginning makes me smile. I like its humor. I can see Chomet's touch here and there. Visually speaking, there's no other way than say that "L'illusionniste" is perfect. However, something is missing.

I could imagine "My Dog Tulip", amazing animation entirely supported by narration, without any words and it would be more interesting. Originality, that's the word. The weirdness, the chaos, the freshness of "Triplets of Belleville" gives place to an accessible and bland narrative. I like a lot the idea of the old illusionist trying to survive in a modern world of images and sounds. I like a lot the idea of two strangers who don't speak the same language trying to communicate somehow. I 've already seen myself in a similar situation, walking with a small dictionary in my bag, point out words I didn't dare to talk afraid of the wrong pronunciation. I like how such relationships can develop, but was it really necessary Alice to become a Barbie and meets prince charming? The end can be melancholic, but it's still a Disney fairy tale.

After reading Richard Tatischeff 's letter, I felt relieved. He says how in the original script "the young girl attracts the attention of a handsome young man who exposes the conjurer's magic as fraudulent, nothing more than cheap tricks, illusions created to entertain an audience. Unable to hold onto her affections once his charade has been exposed the script concludes with the conjurer disappearing off into the sunset free of his deceit having as he always known he would lost the affections of the young girl to youth and the vibrancy of the city once she was able to see beyond his theatrics" . That was exactly my point. I was not convinced that Alice believed his illusions were real, even so, she is more amazed by what she can gain from his magic than the magic itself. She only discovers the truth with Tatischeff's note that "magicians do not exist". He would, of course, lose her for the young boy, but I'm sure he wouldn't lose Alice's affections even after "his charade had been exposed" because she is, like the boy, a good (in both meanings) fairy tale character.

Something like that - "throughout his career Tati was often quoted as saying that his Hulot was just a character he had created and he himself was a very different person to what was seen on screen. The very title, l'Illusionniste illustrates how Tati was aware at how his public persona was a veil that contradicted the real man"- would be quite interesting. However, after watching "Mon Oncle", I have to say that Alice is quite possible the way she is portrayed. Tati would be more whimsical and not so emotive as Chomet is here, but I can picture Monsieur Hulot taking several jobs to dress up the neighbor's young daughter if in the same situation that Tatischeff and Alice were.

May 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

As with The Triplets Of Belleville, I was immediately enveloped by the story and the world presented here and the (for all intents and purposes) "silent film" style of story telling.

My modern (read: jaded) sensibilities had me thrown off at first. I kept thinking how can this old man not be freaked out that this young girl ran away to be with him? Surely people would question his intentions?

But if you can get past that and watch the story unfold under the premise of a kindly Father trying to live up to the expectations of his (in this case adopted) is a beautiful story and really quite sad.

The animation and music is delightful and really make the whole experience that much more magical. While this is not an animated film that would hold a (normal) childs interest for very long, I think most adults will appreciate the many layers of charm.
January 10, 2012
Robert C

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Illusionist (DE)
  • L'Illusionniste (FR)
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