Would you like to hear a secret?
A bit closer...
Right, now that it's just me and you...I've never seen "Belleville Rendez-Vous"
Keep it under your hat though eh?
So, if you are expecting some sort of detailed analysis of that and how it compares to "The Illusionist" then you will be sorely disappointed. Not that I think, for even a moment, that anyone reads this for detailed analysis...or even that anyone reads this at all.
"The Illusionist" (as you will already be aware) is the work of Sylvain Chomet and is built around a Jacques Tati script. Taking that source material and then setting it in 1950's Edinburgh, Chomet recreates perfectly the Athens of the North and manages to capture the feel of the city too.
As the eponymous illusionist leaves France in search of work he arrives, first, in London only to find himself playing second fiddle to Billy and the Britoons (a Beatlesesque pop group) and is soon flung off the bill and has to turn to doing tricks at weddings in order to make ends meet. At one such event he meets a drunk Scotsman who invites him North to perform in his small village and where he meets "the girl"...a young girl who soon follows the illusionist to Edinburgh and sets up home with him in a hotel room.
While the illusionist struggles to make ends meet by undertaking a variety of dead end jobs the girl makes ever increasing demands for clothes and make-up, all of which he affords her without complaint. As her selfishness increases so his selflessness increases to accommodate her. Ultimately though he has to leave in order for her to find true love and, we hope, a bit more meaning in her life.
With barely a word spoken the power of "The Illusionist" lies in Chomets ability to take a script from a, largely, forgotten performer and to use it to create a lost world both physically and emotionally. People in the Edinburgh of "The Illusionist" are polite, well dressed and hard working...a far cry from the truth of modern day Auld Reekie. This is a delicate and tender film that won't be to everyones taste but that will reward others.