Misty water coloured memories – ★★★★
Sylvain Chomet, the director of Belleville Rendez-vous from 2003, has a new film to lodge in your memory. Atilla Marcel concerns the fortune of a mute man by the name of Paul – played wonderfully by Guillaume Gouix, who fans of the television show “The Returned” will recognise. Unable or unwilling to speak since the age of two, he is in the care of his Aunts and plays piano morning noon and night.
One day he accidentally stumbles into the apartment of Mme. Proust who offers a service, for a price, to help people unlock their memories with the help of music and some magic mushrooms. She maintains all memories are within the head and never forgotten merely lurking in deeper recesses. Paul is desperate to learn of his parents, but may not be prepared for what lies beneath.
While never bordering on Michel Gondry levels of whimsy, Atilla Marcel does have more than enough quaint characters and at times striking visual arrangements to keep your interests heightened and eyes on the screen. There is much contained within these reels on love, relationships and the human condition.
The vast majority of people need to have a sense of belonging, of roots and if those they never knew loved them. Guillaume as Paul beautifully captures this sense of loneliness and ennui without saying a word. Anne Le Ny as Mme. Proust is perfectly cast as the soul of the film. She is the Great Aunt or Grandmother everyone should at least know once – being a shoulder to cry on, wise beyond imagine and there with a smile the size of a crescent moon.
A truly unique film that is lovingly executed and will no doubt stay with you for some time.
Atilla Marcel is released on Friday the 5th of September exclusively at the IFI.