Attila Marcel ***Dir: Sylvain Chomet. With: Guillaume Gouix, Anne Le Ny, Bernadette Lafont. 106 mins. Cert: 12A
France’s Sylvain Chomet has been responsible for two of this century’s outstanding animated films in 2003’s Belleville Rendezvous and 2010’s The Illusionist. His first live-action feature expands the Tati-like flourishes of that last project: the quest of mute, piano-playing manchild Paul (Guillaume Gouix) to uncover the truth about his parents’ mysterious death is very nearly buried amid a tangle of sight gags as overgrown as one character’s interior greenhouse. Fortunately, most of these – the blind man tuning a balustrade with his cane, the oddly proportioned dogs – are just funny enough to sustain it, and Chomet dodges the sickly, undernourished whimsy Jean-Pierre Jeunet has been reduced to by ensuring his traumatised protagonist’s every forward step passes over a deep wellspring of emotion: somewhere in here, there’s an affecting treatise on what we take from our fathers, and give back to our children. Not as essential as the animations, but sweet and very likable.
Attila Marcel is now playing in selected cinemas.