Director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) invokes memories of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati in his first live-action film, about a mute, sweet-natured man-child whose reawakened childhood memories unleash marvellous musical fantasies.

Special Presentations

Attila Marcel

Sylvain Chomet

With The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, French director Sylvain Chomet created animated films of unusual wit and delicacy, charming audiences with stories and characters that seemed to emerge from some gentler era. For Attila Marcel, his first live-action feature film, Chomet recreates that era with all the visual invention of his animated work.

Paul is a sweet man-child, raised — and smothered — by his two eccentric aunts in Paris since the death of his parents when he was a toddler. Now thirty-three, he still does not speak. (He does express himself through colourful suits that would challenge any Wes Anderson character in nerd chic.) Paul's aunts have only one dream for him: to win piano competitions. Although Paul practices dutifully, he remains unfulfilled until he submits to the interventions of his upstairs neighbour. Suitably named after the novelist, Madame Proust offers Paul a concoction that unlocks repressed memories from his childhood and awakens the most delightful of fantasies.

Guillaume Gouix plays Paul as an innocent lifted from a silent comedy, his face welcoming the strangest of sights with simple, open curiosity. And Chomet gives Paul much to witness. The rails of a staircase become a musical instrument. Ukuleles take on totemic force. A tango-dancing scene between Paul's parents shifts to wrestling, and back again.

Designing this live-action film with the same grace he brought to his animation, Chomet wraps Paul's adventure in deadpan absurdity that draws comparisons to Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati. As with those directors, and with Wes Anderson, Chomet's whimsy carries serious intent. Attila Marcel is a sad comedy about time passing, memories recalled, and the ephemeral beauty of life.

CAMERON BAILEY

Screenings

Fri Sep 06

Winter Garden Theatre

Regular
4:30pm
Sat Sep 07

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Industry
8:15am
Wed Sep 11

Scotiabank 14

Industry
9:00am
Thu Sep 12

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Regular
12:15pm
Sun Sep 15

TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Regular
12:15pm