Post-birthday party tired and emotional, I went to see The Illusionist. Featuring a French magician and set in 1950s Edinburgh, it was always highly probable that I'd enjoy it.
I loved it. And how it made me cry - the like of which hasn't been seen since the Billy Elliot debacle (he's a Northern boy that just wants to dance!). I cried for about the last quarter of the hour in the cinema, I cried all the walk home and my eyes have welled up every time I've tried to describe just why it moved me so much.
So, with the risk of tears clogging up my keyboard, here I go. It's based on an unproduced script by Jacques Tati which has been adapted into a charming animation by Sylvain Chomet and tells the story of a down on his luck French magician who meets, and ends up being followed to Edinburgh by a sweet and naive Highland girl. He charms her with a pair of shoes, convincing her of his magic abilities. The film shows their time in the Scottish underworld of dancers, ventriloquists and acrobats, all set against hints of a changing time. Eventually she meets someone and falls in love and he goes on his way again leaving only the message 'Magicians do not exist.' Sob inducing in itself.
My love for Edinburgh stems from my four years as a student there. The animation of the city looks stunning, turning it into a dreamlike creation and it reminded me what it was like to encounter it for the very first time, before I started taking its beauty for granted. In the young naive country girl I saw myself: with all the dreams of my 18-year-old self, and accompanying loneliness and insecurities. It also helped that she loved clothes!
The city looks stunning in the animation, a dreamlike creation and it reminded me what it was like to encounter it for the very first time, before I started taking its beauty for granted.
As she left the illusion of the magician behind and departed with her new romance for the next chapter of her story to begin, I'm preparing to move in with my boyfriend and to leave one part of my independent life behind. I hope some magic stays with me though as life would be terribly boring without it.
I highly recommend it, even if you aren't a girl at an emotional turning point in your life or weren't a student in Edinburgh. As the French guy next to me said as the credits rolled, 'That was beautiful, non?'. Of course I was too busy blubbing to reply.