3701 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
dir. Sylvain Chomet, France, 2010, 35mm, English, 80 mins.
A down-on-his-luck illusionist befriends a pretty admirer, and finds that his constant quest to impress her may be his ultimate downfall in this animated fable based on an original screenplay by Jacques Tati and directed by Sylvain Chomet (his first film following the 2003 art-house smash The Triplets of Belleville). Now that the theaters and large performance venues have been taken over by rock bands and pop singers, the illusionist has been forced to ply his trade at small gatherings in bars, cafés, and basements in order earn a living. One day, while performing in a small Scottish pub located on a remote island that has only recently been wired for electricity, the illusionist encounters a young girl named Alice, who is captivated by his otherworldly abilities. Alice believes that the downtrodden performer possesses genuine supernatural powers, and agrees to accompany him on a trip to Edinburgh, where he's scheduled to perform at a modest, out-of-the-way theater. Her affection and enthusiasm inspire the illusionist, who in turn uses his talent to lavish her with a series of extravagant gifts. Unable to muster the courage to tell his starry-eyed admirer the truth about his trade, the illusionist continues giving until he's got nothing more to offer.