The Illusionist is very beautiful and melancholic. Each scene is brimming with tender detail and attention. You can feel the joy of the filmmakers seeping through the film. The score by director Sylvain Chomet is also lovely. The film comes amazingly close to the pure cinema of Tati (who wrote the original screenplay and was the spiritual inspiration for the film) and Chaplin. It doesn't quite reach that angelic mark, but few films do. The film is a great leap forward from Chomet's rather wonderful Triplets of Belleville. That film had visual flair and innovation but it is but a shadow to The Illusionist's subtlety, pacing and heart. A sad and humane poem of a film.
A note for those who take joy in visual art: Moments from The Illusionist reminded me of the great works of Georges Rouault. There is so much sadness here, yet it is somehow transfigured into joyful suffering. Rouault's masterpiece, the collection Miserere, is among the purest and most humane works of art you will ever encounter.
A Scene from The Illusionist
Roualt's "The Clown" - 1907