The problem with a movie like The Illusionist is that it was preceded by a movie called The Prestige. The Prestige entertained us with a fast moving story of two duelling magicians, trying to out do each other, whist paying each other back for a perceived wrong in their past.
Both The Prestige and The Illusionist are movies about magicians – showmen who use slight of hand and other optical tricks to wow the audience. But both movies are also very different.
Instead of a fast paced thriller, The Illusionist traveled the road of a character driven drama, where the viewer must be on the watch for signs of reality, because in essence, nothing is what it seems.
Of course a character driven drama meanders along at a more sedate pace and relies on great acting, rather than a thrilling plot. Three of the main characters pull off riveting performances; the ever pleasing Paul Giamatti plays the role of Chief Inspector Uhl, caught between what he wants to do, and what he needs to do; Edward Norton downplays his role as the illusionist himself, Eisenheim and creates a character who on the surface seems to care for nothing in life, but satisfies himself with the curiosity of others; Rufus Sewell plays dastardly with a convincing smile as the Crown Prince Leopold, a scheming wart of a man who is easy to despise.
And then there’s Jessica Biel. As the love interest of both Eisenheim and Leopold, Beil’s portrayal of Sophie should have brought some tension between the two opposing men, but instead her less than average acting probably made most viewers groan with despair.
Fortunately however, her role was mercifully less than the other three main characters, and the carefully crafted tale was well supported by some fine imagery and a beautiful score.
The ending however, the coup de main of most great movies, was handled as well as Biel’s acting and left a rather un appetising taste in the mouth.
Food for thought
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. – Matthew 6:22-23
What we see depends on what we are looking for, and our ability to see the truth. If we’re not constantly looking for the truth, we’ll end up falling for the lie.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Contains Violence & Sexual References.
Duration: 109 mins.
Actors: Edward Norton, Rufus Sewell, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel.
Director: Neil Burger.
Release Date: Available Now.