Staff Picks

The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste)

July 19, 2011

Watching “The Illusionist’’ is like peering through a rippled windowpane onto a past that knows it’s disappearing. A seriocomic evocation of vanished pleasures — postwar Europe, British music-hall performers, the films of legendary French comic Jacques Tati — this glowing animated feature reserves its greatest and quietest melancholy for the gulf that can grow between a father and daughter as the latter moves forward and the former stays put.  

That “The Illusionist’’ plays out in near-silence against a pointillistic backdrop of European cities and Scottish landscapes — lovingly hand-drawn with the occasional bloom of computer-animated light and horizon — only makes the loss more beautiful and more inevitable.