By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) -
This is the least known of the Animated Feature Oscar nominees, but I’ll give you a sneak peek and let you know that it deserves to be nominated.It is based on an unproduced script by French mime, actor, director, and all-around beloved figure Jacques Tati.
Although sculpture seriously confused him
Apparently the script was too personal for him to film, and there are a few theories why.One was that he wrote it for his youngest daughter, and she’s the one who okayed the director, Slyvain Chomet’s, adaptation.The other is more poignant yet, in which it was a letter to, and the only public acknowledgement of, his estranged eldest daughter, whom he abandoned while she was a child.
The story concerns an aging magician who craft is becoming less appreciated by the day.He meets a teenage girl while giving a small performance in Scotland, and she ends up accompanying him to the big city of EdinburghHe develops a father-daughter relationship with her, but eventually finds there are limits to his generosity, no matter how much he enjoys employing it.
Tati’s style borrowed a lot from silent films and the singular style they can bring to bear with comedy and melodrama.Chomet preserves the best of this, and the result is funny and sad in a way you don’t usually experience with modern films.
There is nearly no dialogue, and what there is employs a mixture of English, French, and Gaelic, which deemphasizes the words the characters say and forces you to observe their bearing and actions to learn about them.The score is quite good, and helps fill in some of the gaps the dialogue leaves.
A final raise of the glass goes to the animation, all hand-drawn, which is excellent and sometimes even stunning, particularly a fast-paced, 360 degree tour of Edinburgh.
When the clown attempts suicide, you know that this movie won’t be all fun and games.Sometimes the bitter overwhelms the sweet, and towards the end you start to wonder if this love letter to either of his daughters is more of a diatribe calling her a naïve, money-greedy dunce who’ll always need a man to take care of her.
Which has a way of working itself out sometimes.
I haven’t seen any of Tati’s work, but I’m looking to rectify this.There are whispers that this didn’t do the script justice, but all I can say is that it looks pretty good to me.I’ll take bittersweet and beautiful every time.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the rabbit tries to maul someone
Take a Drink: each time the girl is impressed by The Magician’s magic
Drink a Shot: every time life screws him over