Director: Sylvain Chomet
It’s always exciting to watch a director try something outside of their comfort-zone, so it’s extremely disappointing to see Sylvain Chomet, the wonderful director behind the animated films, The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, fail to translate his style to live-action. Attila Marcel, the story of a mute piano player who lives with his aunts and longs for his deceased mother, is positioned as something of a Tati film with a Buster Keaton figure at the center. Where it ends up, though, is somewhere sub-Jeunet.
The plot, which involves the mute Paul (Guillaume Gouix) attempting to recall the memory of his mother through his neighbour’s drugged teas, is fully of whimsy, but that’s not a positive. There’s little to hold onto here, and while the same could be said of Chomet’s previous work, those were made beautiful by their incredibly expressive animation. Some visual genius would’ve helped in Attila Marcel, but Chomet apparently has little gift for expressiveness with a camera. It’s all garish colours and poor compositions, with a surprising lack of visual detail to catch the eye.
Worst of all, Gouix, who looks remarkably like Buster Keaton—and clearly has talent to back it up—is given extremely little to do outside of stone-faced reactions. Here’s hoping Chomet returns to animation after this live-action attempt. There he seems to know what he’s doing. (Corey Atad)
Friday, September 6, Winter Garden Theatre, 4:30pm
Thursday, September 12, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 12:15pm