Very recently a friend introduced me to the animator, illustrator, writer, director, BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated Sylvain Chomet. In the past week I have spent far too much time Googling him and illegally watching his movies. This guy is brilliant.
Born in Maisons-Laffitte in the banlieue of Paris, he started his career drawing and writing print comics. His first feature-length animated film, Les Triplettes de Belleville was nominated for two Oscars in 2003. This was followed seven years later by his next animated film L’Illusionniste (loosely) based on a 1956 script by Jacques Tati about his flawed and troubling relationship with his daughter. It tells the story of a struggling magician and a young woman who idolizes him.
Both films evoke mid-twentieth century French society and are quirky, especially Les Triplettes, which might be more accurately described as a bit on the creepy and Tim Burtonesque-side. While L’Illusionniste is also quirky, it had moments for me that reminded my of the animated film Up – at least in the way it deeply stirred my emotions.
A couple of weeks ago, the Simpsons (an animated American television show, in case you’ve been living under a rock…) gave Chomet the green light to direct the animation for the opening couch scene and add a Gallic twist…cue the snails, force-fed geese, accordion-playing Lisa, and the notoriously high-waisted men’s pants. Take a few seconds to see what I adore about Monsieur Chomet and let me know what you think about him.