Director Sylvain Chomet holds the distinction of helming two of the most visually and narratively wondrous animated films in recent decades; 2003’s Oscar-nominated “The Triplets of Belleville” and 2010’s “The Illusionist,” both of which pay tribute to silent cinema in their own unique ways — the latter even took up an unproduced script by the legendary Jacques Tati. Now Chomet is looking to replicate that success in a live-action setting with “Atilla Marcel,” for which we’ve just got the first trailer, before the film begins its festival run this week.
Set to have its world premiere at TIFF, “Atilla Marcel” follows a mute man-child, Paul (played by the distinctly Keaton-esque Guillaume Gouix), who resents the smothering aunts that want nothing more than for him to win piano competitions. This all changes when an upstairs neighbor Madame Proust offers Paul a potion that releases repressed childhood memories — sending him off a journey that looks to carry as much of the visual dexterity that Chomet brought to his animated efforts, judging from the trailer.
Vibrant colors, manicured set design, and a strong dose of comic eccentricity — the comparisons to Michel Gondry or Wes Anderson may come on strong at first glance, but overall we get a sense that Chomet has very different aims on his mind than those two directors. His short in “Paris Je t’aime” first tempted Chomet with the possibilities of live-action; we’ll see how he matches up to a feature when “Atilla Marcel” hits TIFF screens later this week. Watch the full (un-subtitled) French trailer below.