Attila Marcel (2013) Poster


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Entertaining Comedy-Drama About Self-Revelation
l_rawjalaurence30 August 2015
The basic scenario for Sylvain Chomet's comedy-drama is reminiscent of that of SHINE (1994). A young man, the eponymous central character (Guillaume Goulx) in his early thirties demonstrates a higher-than-average talent for piano playing, but does not speak. Looked after by a pair of overbearing aunts (Bernadette Lafont, Hélène Vincent), he has little or no outlet for his talents. He discovers in the apartment below him an eccentric woman, Mme. Proust (Anne Le Ny), who administers a concoction to him, enabling him to indulge in fantasies as well as uncover the mysteries of his past.

The plot is a straightforward one, dramatizing the ways in which we often deal with trauma by repressing it. Attila Marcel's concoction is nothing more than a means by which he learns to reconnect with it. What happened might have been unpleasant, but in the end he has to learn how to deal with it. Mme. Proust eventually passes away, and the apartment is taken over by someone else; but the experience has proved cathartic.

What renders Chomet's film so entertaining are the settings, a series of suitable visual metaphors for the lives Marcel pursues. The apartment he shares with his aunts is perpetually spick-and- span: everything in the right place so that Attila can cope with life around him. The aunts believe that this is the best thing for him; as the film unfolds, we understand how they have imposed their will on him, as a way of compensating for their own spinsterhood. The seedy dance studio, where Attila plays the piano for young girls just beginning their careers, is both bare and impersonal; the only noteworthy item of furniture being the piano. This sums up the aridity of the young man's life; it's hardly surprising that he does not want to speak. And there is Mme. Proust's apartment, a positive riot of fauna and flora, with tatty furniture and a strange visitor M. Cuelho (Luis Rego) who always seems to be waking up from a trance. The confusion of her apartment expresses Attila's state of mind; it is only through the concoction that such confusions can be straightened out.

The film comes to a predictable conclusion as we discover precisely what happened to the young man's parents. Perhaps he does not need to take the concoction any more; he seems to be 'cured,' at least temporarily. But director Chomet suggests that, if he wanted to take it once more, there would be nothing wrong. Even though it might be comprised of illegal drugs, it has a beneficial effect in the end.
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Captivating and Imaginative French Comedy Drama
t-dooley-69-38691615 June 2015
Paul is in his thirties, he is mute having seen his parents die when he was but two. Since then he has been brought up by his fabulously eccentric aunts and has become something of a virtuoso on the piano. Then a fascinating neighbour tells him that she can help him by using a concoction of herbal tea.

He soon starts to see this Madame Proust regularly and starts regression therapy of sorts. She says that 'you can drown bad memories in a flood of tiny joys' – which is sage advice indeed. The film deals with the cycle of life, the past and a host of human issues.

What unfolds is a beautiful film in terms of style and sentiment about his life and those around him, with so much thrown in that it seems to be endlessly inventive. Guillaume Gouix as Paul and Attila (his wrestling father) is superb – even more so when you consider that he is unable to speak. Everyone plays their roles to the limit and no one goes over the top to lose believability. This is just a wonderful film with music, taxidermy, tree hugging and a whole lot of love besides – one for French film fans and for those who like something a bit different, but in a really nice way.
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Rondo Giocoso a la Grenouille
allenrogerj7 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sylvain Chomet's first live action film is another exercise in homage and hyper-reality. It is in the same kind of slightly off-kilter world as his other films, like, but not quite like, our own. Paul, an aging infant prodigy, has one last chance to win a prize for young pianists before he stops being officially young. He has been mute since his parents' mysterious deaths when he was two and was raised by his mother's staid sisters, Anna and Annie, dance teachers, who control his life and have made him practise continually on the family's ancestral piano in a flat full of ancestral portraits when he is isn't playing at their dance school.

Escaping from his birthday party, attended by his aunts' elderly friends, Paul encounters Mme Proust, an aging ukulele-playing hippie with a huge black deaf dog and no aspirations to musical virtuosity, who uses exotic tisanes (accompanied by madeleines, of course) to revive Paul's childhood memories and bring closure, in the best Hollywood Freudian way, to his problems. There is a destiny that shapes our ends, she explains, rough-hew them how we will, and that is what it does to Paul.

Paul's repressed memories appear from an infant's brightly-coloured p.o.v. to the accompaniment of music his aunts would abhor, including seductive jazz-playing frog accordionists. In the end, Paul is an integrated man, an acclaimed virtuoso (if not on the piano), able to speak, a good father who does not repeat his own father's mistakes... Like Chomet's earlier films, this is a game of references and hallucinations and just as animated as they were, if in a different way.
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Bizarre Yet Inspiring
HLX199231 July 2019
Admittedly, it is quite a stylish film with quite bizarre character setting and thought-provoking storyline. The childhood experience of the protagonist is gradually revealed as he receives sessions of hallucinogenic soup from a gipsy woman. The treatment makes the long-lost memories vivid again, and he finally excavated the truth of his suffocated life. Theatrical effects are achieved through some unpredictable acts of the characters, and various innovative means are employed to convey a sense of strangeness. Quirky or not, this film is certainly worth watching.
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Attila Marcel: or find your own voice
Edd-N-Furter29 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
With only 2 films, Sylvain Chomet has become a reference in the field of animated cinema, due to his unique and original style. His third feature film, Attila Marcel, implies a radical change in his career, being his first live-action movie (although he already experienced in this field in one of the short films from Paris Je t'aime), however, his style and quirks permeate along it.

Paul, a mute pianist since he was 2 years old because he witnessed the death of his parents, lives under the care of his aunts, a pair of single women who own a small dance school, and prepare him to compete in talent competitions. One day, by chance he meets Madame Proust, his downstairs neighbor, who runs a secret herbal business; intrigued by Paul's life circumstances, Mme. Proust decides to help him (via a mysterious herbal tea) to dig into their memories and traumas, in order to make him recover his voice.

A recurrent theme in Chomet's short but substantial filmography is loneliness, this primarily through the orphanhood, and the need for bonds of affection that drive the protagonists to overcome adversity; in this case, Paul seems to find in Mme. Proust an outlet to a cold and mundane existence along with his aunts and takes him on an inner journey of self-rediscovery. This without falling into sentimentality or cheap sappiness, but with a very emotional forcefulness and a quirky sense of humor, which is Chomet's trademark, evident since his first short film (The Old lady and the pigeons) and exploited to the fullest in The Triplets of Belleville.

The music is one of the aspects that Chomet has taken the best advantage of, to the extent that it becomes a prominent character of the story, as also happens in this movie; the piano plays a crucial role in the life of Paul, since it is the only mean of expression available for him before he meets Mme. Proust, who is curiously fond of the ukulele. In turn, some of the memories of Paul are manifested through curious and delirious musical numbers, which help Paul to find out a little more about the relationship between his parents before they died (and by the way, Chomet confirms his skill to create vigorous music and full of eccentric joy or a beautiful melancholy).

However, what distinguishes Chomet from the rest is his great ability to tell stories without using words, or using a minimum amount, such as in Belleville or The Illusionist. And while Attila Marcel is not a silent film, the lead character is, and in many cases is difficult to achieve a balance that does not distract the viewer to notice the lack of dialogue (that means to make the viewer attracted to the story from the very start of the movie), which Chomet achieves effortlessly. This is where is necessary to highlight the performance of Guillaume Gouix as Paul, as he manages to create an almost instant empathy using a face and a look worthy of the golden age of silent films. Also Anne Le Ny deserves mention as Mme Proust, who provides a perfect counterbalance to Paul, being the opposite of him: outgoing, outspoken, not afraid to speak his mind, but as lonely as Paul and with her own emotional issues to deal with.

In sum, Attila Marcel shows that the transition of animation directors to real action does not always equate to disastrous results, and is a somewhat modest but charming and stylish film exercise.
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Could be a "Amelie" clone. A great movie
gwenmollo26 April 2021
I like the work of sylvain Chomet and I wanted to view more movies of him.

I 've completely pass by this. It remind me Amelie from Montmartre.

The tone, the color are very good, sadly the director 's first real movie suffers from a lot of rookie errors. And sometimes missing the mood that is in the movie. But I enjoy it all the time

The actors are great, sometimes to caricaturist, but do prefect the job, Paul is awesome with no words speaking.

The music is nice too, with the ukulele theme, very poetic

I hardly recommend this gold nugget for all the nostalgic and the atypical good movie. It succeed in his mission, offering a nice time.
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Quirky for quirky's sake?
w_sludge15 March 2014
I enjoyed Chomet's TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, but have to say that I was in the minority with his follow-up THE ILLUSIONIST, in that I was slightly disappointed. This film is similar, so I guess I won't be putting myself into the fan camp for this director.

That being said, there was still plenty of charm, wit, romance and humour in this take on how we are shaped by our memories. I did enjoy it but, on reflection, I think I was just continuously being reminded of better French quirkiness like AMELIE. This one just felt a little too.........random? (But it was at least much better than the dire MOOD INDIGO)
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Great movie
ron-sherman112 September 2013
I saw this at the Toronto Film Festival and loved it.

The packed audience there also seemed to share my enthusiasm.

Funnier, quirkier but more complete than the Triplets of Bellville, which I liked.

I gave it my vote for the Audience Award.

Almost impossible to describe without spoiling so I will just say that it is warm, funny, quirky, scary, melodic, and romantic.

It takes place in France, likely Paris.

The main character is in his early thirties, but does not speak. Otherwise, he seems to normal.

The director/writer has a unique, creative voice.
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good for the heart and the eyes.
maryam-oh-cs11 January 2016
visually charming is what comes to my mind when I think about Attila Marcel.

it has an interestingly weird environment and characters. to me that's great! I liked the music and every visual element of the movie, color combinations, and decor, fascinated me. What I didn't like is that it had this annoying randomness the whole time, and some scenes were unnecessary which made me really bored at times while watching it. generally the story isn't that great, what is great is the sweetness of it. to sum it up it's a good choice for someone who wants something delightful but smart enough with a hint of imagination.
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A movie like an herbal tea
nemorecords21 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
We have all memories; good or bad, funny or sad. In some point of view we are made of memories. This movie is all about memories and friendship and music, love of nature and joy of life.

How come that an introvert "young" adult is not speaking for years? What is the real meaning of neighborhood? Could souls might be neighbors for each other? What is the real success in life?

Attila Marcel is strongly recommended if you are interested with these questions and if you would to have a cup of "herbal" tea with healing effects...

P.S.: There is a small scene after the end credits and a dedication, so don't leave the movie without listening credits soundtrack and last piece of the movie: Everybody could change.
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