Jacques Tati is my favorite filmmaker, so the idea of making a lost screenplay of his is very appealing to me. Perhaps I set my expectations too high, but THE ILLUSIONIST doesn't belong in his oeuvre.
At first thought the idea of resuscitating M. Hulot as an animated character might seem appealing, but the truth is that much of Tati's charm comes in the performance, and putting the filter of animation on him only makes him more distant.
There are a few nice homages to the master, like naming the character Tatischeff, Tati's original family name (although why isn't he Hulot?) and many visual references to previous films, not to mention many plot elements similar to other films (perhaps too many).
Then there's the bizarre moment where the Tatischeff meanders into a screening of MON ONCLE, seeing the actual live action film on the screen. This really defines this film as nothing but a pale imitation of the real deal.
Some elements work better than others, but the idea of a magician entertaining in animation is kind of dumb. It's not a trick when it's animated. But the relationship between the older Tati and the younger woman is sweet, even if the ending is far too depressing. Tati's films always ended on a up note, even when he didn't get the girl.
I suppose it's still a must-see for fan's of Tati, though.