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It was my great privilege to be invited to the world premiere of Sylvain Chomet's follow up to Belleville Rendez-Vous.
Set in Edinburgh and produced by an old pal of mine, Bob Last, I had very high expectations indeed. Not least because it is not every day that one of the world's most beautiful cities (my own) would be caught in artful majesty for years to come. And indeed it was. Edinburgh is a real star of this charming but very slight movie.
The city shimmers throughout, but the story sadly does not. It reminded me of a novel by Irish writer, William Trevor, called Felicia's Journey in which a young girl is taken into the trust of an older man. In that book (and subsequent film starring Bob Hoskins) and this, there is a slight air of seediness. (That's maybe going too far in the case of The Illusionist but the comparison was palpable for me.) Why the protection? What are the man's motives? I found it mildly uncomfortable. The fact is, in neither case are the intentions, apparently, anything more than protective; but somehow the feeling persists in both that all may not be as it seems.
Belleville Rendez-Vous arrived on the film scene like a bolt from the blue. This, sadly, suffers from that difficult second film syndrome. It oozes class and charm from every pore. It looks sublime. But the story (a Jaques Tati cast off) fails to deliver. It simply does not have the muscle to sustain 90 minutes of screen time.
A real shame because it has a great deal of merit.
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