Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Illusionist (2006)

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Like the magic tricks depicted in the film, The Illusionist is great fun to watch, especially if you allow yourself to be entranced within it, but the more it is analyzed the less special it seems. The Illusionist tells the story of a peasant magician who uses his magic to win the heart of an aristocrat girl. Its hard to go wrong with a cast headlined by co-stars Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. Watching the story of Eisenheim the illusionist, played by Norton, is worth the time of anyone who enjoys movies simply for his performance. Norton is disturbing, mysterious, affectionate, at all times captivating and although this isn't a relatively important or award-winning film, he brings everything to the table, showing why he is one of today's best actors. He and Giamatti shine in the scenes they are in together, which are thoroughly enjoyable. Rufus Sewell is perfectly despicable as Crown Prince Leopold, rival to Eisenheim and tyrannical ruler of Austria. The three actors are involved in almost all of the scenes, which is good, because the cast outside of them is below average. The most notable example of poor casting was Jessica Biel as Sophie, Eisenheim's love interest. She is unbelievable as a high class nobility in a time piece set in a foreign country and cannot remotely compare to any of the actors, particularly Norton. The film is written and directed by Neil Burger, and as a mystery-romance holds its own against anything else released recently. The script is attention-grabbing, fast-moving, and entertaining, and the score, direction, and cinematography create a dark, mystic atmosphere and the tension is high throughout. The conclusion, like the rest of the film, is quite satisfying on the surface but breaks down a bit upon further inspection. The story of Eisenheim the Illusionist will appeal to anyone who likes David Blaine or Criss Angel and anyone else looking for a fun diversion.

Good for: a date, someone looking for a 90 minute distraction, fans of romance films, Norton fans, people who like mysteries

Bad for: people who figure out conclusions before the conclusion

The Gallery
The Economist: * * *
The Film Maker: * * * *

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