The Illusionist


    • Alain Cavalier
    • France
    • 1990
    • 13 min
    • Top 10

    An enchanting mini-portrait of Antoinette, an 86½-year-old magician. Clad in a dress coat and white satin top hat, the elegant Parisienne performs ostensibly simple tricks with astonishing sleight-of-hand. With no more than a napkin, tissue paper or a rain of plastic flowers, Antoinette conjures up a hopeful universe.

    Between the magic sessions, director Alain Cavalier asks her about her daily life, in which she performs for people with serious disabilities, or the very elderly. After a happy childhood and marriage, she saw this as a good way to spend her “third life,” she says, with a twinkle in her eye. Close-ups show Antionette’s hands as she performs the trick under our nose. So close, yet the mystery remains perfectly intact.

    This portrait is part of a series in which Cavalier interviewed Parisian women with unusual professions. The “illusionist” is exemplary of his fascination for faces, hands and objects—the little wrinkles around Antoinette’s smile, her slim fingers, and the pair of doves compete for our attention. It comes as no surprise that what led her into magic was love.


    • 13 min
    • color
    • DCP
    • Spoken languages: French
    • Subtitles in: English
    Alain Cavalier
    Isabel Pons
    Camera One, Douce
    Jean-François Robin
    Marie-Pomme Carteret

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