French animation director Sylvain Chomet debuted in 2003 with “The Triplets of Belleville,” a five-course meal of a film, rich with a surreal visual style and Gallic wit, and followed it up with “The Illusionist,” a gorgeous adaptation of a Jacques Tati film. Now Chomet brings us the whimsical “Attila Marcel,” which marks his first feature-length live action film.

When I interviewed him a decade ago, he seemed like a man who hates leaving his comfort zone, and he is way out of his comfort zone in “Attila Marcel.” And it shows; Chomet deals with his own discomfort by portraying Paul (Guillaume Gouix) as a traumatized pianist living with two adoring aunts.

Paul hasn’t spoken since the age of 2, when his parents died, and he misses his young, pretty mother. To salvage his memories of her, he keeps visiting the house of faux-spiritualist Madame Proust for endless cups of herbal tea and the obligatory plate of madeleines.

Attila Marcel (Boku wo Sagashi ni)
Director Sylvain Chomet
Language French (subtitled in Japanese)
Opens aug. 2

As with Chomet’s other works, French cultural subtexts abound, but in the end though, it’s Chomet’s precise and precious animator’s vision that defines the movie and gives us a peek into his sincere and endlessly romantic mind.

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