So, yeah. There was 'The Illusionist' live action film from 2006 that most people's minds seem to jump to when I bring up this title, but many forget about the French animated film from 2010 that was nominated for an Oscar. However it was up against the likes of 'Toy Story 3' AND 'How to Train Your Dragon' that year, who were far too stiff a competition for this quaint little film.
This is one of those overall silent films with next to no talking, and most of the communication is done with body language. It follows a magician who is part of a dying breed of entertainer, and it shows when even his minimal audience doesn't seem altogether impressed with his act. He now has to compete with rock and roll music and other forms of popular entertainment, like film. He packs it in, and heads towards a small Scottish community who's entertained by his work, and there, he meets a young girl named Alice who takes an interest and genuine belief in his magic.
Believing that he's truly gifted, Alice heads with him to Edinburgh where he puts on a modest performance for a small theater. All the while the pair stay in a semi run-down hotel room, him on the couch and her on the bed, that favors older entertainers such as a clown, a couple of acrobats, and a ventriloquist. The rest of the movie plays out a lot like 'The Artist' in a way, where the end message seems to be that change must happen, even if it hurts.
This movie does, indeed, have quite a bit of charm to it. There's something to be said about a movie that can tell a story, and tell it well, with next to no dialogue. 'Shaun the Sheep' was probably the most recent thorough accomplishment of this technique. It's rare, but it's proof that simplicity can work.
However, the true star of this movie is most definitely in the animator's touch. Not only is it a nice stray away from the modern CG craze, but at times it looks so artistically beautiful that some of these landscapes look like professional paintings, and the animation of the camera doing a lot of wide landscape shots is as smooth as silk. It really is a sort of breathtaking film to watch and experience. It's like a trip to Europe in the comfort of your own home.
Part of what makes this movie good, however, is also what people might not like about it. To be perfectly blunt, this is a very depressing movie by the end of it all. However the sadness comes from the whole idea of change and moving on, and in such a nostalgic day and age where we're repeating the 80's like a record stuck on a loop, perhaps a lot of us (myself included) can learn from it. Change can be a scary thing, but it's necessary. So I could see it really bumming some viewers out. But at the same time, if you want something genuine and heart-felt, it's a good title to check out.