Attila Marcel: The new, poetic world of Sylvain Chomet

After The Triplets of Belleville (shown out of competition at Cannes in 2003, and which received an Oscar nomination in 2004 for Best Original Song) and The Illusionist (revealed at the Berlinale in 2010, and nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2011 Oscars), director Sylvain Chomet tentatively left the world of animation to produce Attila Marcel, his first live-action film. The cast includes rising star Guillaume Gouix (The AnarchistsMobile Home, nominated for Most Promising Actor at the 2012 César Awards for Jimmy Rivière), Anne Le Ny (Untouchables), Bernadette Lafont (Paulette, in the same Walk this Way collection), Hélène Vincent (A Few Hours of Spring), Luis Rego and Jean-Claude Dreyfus.

Written by Sylvain Chomet, the story revolves around Paul (Guillaume Gouix), who witnessed his parents’ death when he was two years old. The shock was so severe that he lost both his memory and his ability to speak. Brought up by his two upper-class spinster aunts, his life runs like clockwork, divided between piano practice in the living room, sweet pastries and his aunt's dance classes, where he works as the regular pianist. The day he meets his neighbour, Madame Proust, his world is turned upside down. The latter, a Buddhist who grows vegetables on her living-room floor, gets him to taste some herbal tea, and through the use of music, she enables his most deeply buried memories to resurface. Thanks to some old records that she kept from her childhood, Paul will start having hallucination-like and sung dreams, taking him on a journey to the very depths of his memory; he will relive his early childhood and finally discover what really happened to his parents – but above all, he will gradually get back to living his life and finally become an adult.

This poetic and nostalgic story, which is reminiscent of the world created by Jean-Pierre Jeunet in Amélie, already won the hearts of festivalgoers at the Beijing International Film Festival in 2014, where Guillaume Grouix was named Best Actor, and Sylvain Chomet and Franck Monbaylet were awarded the Best Music Award.

After a French theatrical release in October 2013, the fantasy world of Attila Marcel can be discovered on video on demand in Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Austria and Hungary from 1 September, nestling among the nine titles in the French Comedies collection on Walk this Way.

23 September 2015, by Cineuropa