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The Illusionist More at IMDbPro »

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450 out of 577 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant movie, exceptional all around

Author: Corey Shuman ( from Draper, Utah
26 January 2006

This movie was stunning in many aspects. Visually in terms of locations, inside and out, there was great consistency and a nothing seemed strained. The story weaved fluidly through these locations and seemed to make the locales a vital part of the story. Ed Norton was mesmerizing, a superb performance that allowed the story to unfold seemingly at his discretion. Jess Biel was very believable and stunningly beautiful. Paul Giamatti (sp) played an admirable role and took the viewer by surprise in many elements of the story. The story was fresh and imaginative, very intriguing. Not as predictable as you would think. We saw this at a Sundance screening and the entire theater of 500+ seats was full and when the movie was over all you could hear was excited and happy chatter, lots of applause as well. Director came out for a Q&A after and was very amiable in answering questions. Highly recommended!!!

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342 out of 408 people found the following review useful:

This is not a Review. This is only an Illusion.

Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
21 August 2006

"The Illusionist" is a unique film that combines two often stale genres into something fresh: the lush romantic period piece and the "AHA!" mystery thriller (a genre M. Night Shamalyan has single-handedly run into the ground recently). Helmed by a first time director (Neil Burger), based on a short story, and featuring an eclectic cast, "The Illusionist" had the perfect set-up to be a monumental disaster. With a graceful slight-of-hand, it ends up being something very good.

As with any run-of-the-mill period piece, there's a lavish attention to the set designs and costumes, here representing late nineteenth century Vienna. Director Burger puts a nice spin on the same-old, same-old with an acute attention to lighting (especially in the dreamily over-exposed flashbacks) and old fashioned camera techniques (witness the circular camera's eye closing to transition from scenes) to give the film the feel of being a fond memory of a classic movie from a bygone era.

The central romance where Edward Norton's title character and Jessica Biel's Dutchess are star-crossed lovers kept apart because of class and society, had all the makings of a snore-inducing cheese-athon. Executed in an understated manner that services the greater plot, it ends up being anything but. Norton's performance, especially in the second half of the film when he turns into a man of very few words, had the potential to be one-note. As an actor, he speaks volumes with his eyes. Biel, a former teen idol and TV star, seemed a horrific choice for this role. She pulls of the nifty trick of being quite good. Even better are Rufus Sewell as the tyrannical crown-prince and Paul Giamatti as the chief inspector. Using a short story as the source material, characterizations had the potential to be paper-thin, but these seasoned veterans make the most of their lines and scenes adding terror, humor, and gravitas through their vocal and physical deliveries where lesser actors would've been wooden and cold. The entire cast also worked together very well utilizing their odd, vaguely European and aristorcatic accent. Everyone used it so consistently and earnestly, it didn't seem to matter after awhile that the accent was unnecessary.

A more over-eager or pretentious director may have completely sabotaged the fantastic ending to "The Illusionist" and cheated the audience. Handled deftly by Burger, the grande finale where "all is revealed" is a wholly organic and satisfying conclusion that rewards the patient viewer and fulfills the lofty promises of the themes presented throughout the work.

"The Illusionist" boasts an excellent music score from minimalist composer Phillip Glass that easily rivals his great work done in "Candyman" and "The Hours." Norton and Giamatti treat us to some of the best "staring" since the days of silent films. The look on Giamatti's face and the positioning of his raised eyebrows as he watches Norton perform his illusions coupled with Norton's eyes as he pulls off his tricks are priceless.

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350 out of 427 people found the following review useful:

Norton is mesmerizing

Author: maria-309 from United States
9 August 2006

I am a long time fan of the old theatre magicians and have been fascinated by the wave of spiritualism that swept both continents around the turn of the last century. This movie plays off those real life happenings, with the added twist of court and political intrigue. The movie is lush - as a period piece should be - with terrific performances from a true ensemble cast. Edward Norton has the charismatic gaze that makes you believe in every thing he does. Jennifer Biel is tragic and compelling as a woman trapped by society and dubious duty. Paul Giamatti - who seems to be in every other movie these days - is wonderful as a conflicted man unsure of whom he serves. Rufus Sewell, as the Crown Prince Leopold, is that man, and he embodies the boo-hiss villain. Vain and driven, he is larger than life and not one to cross, as the illusionist comes to find out. The music of Philip Glass fits the scenes and add just the right amount of tension. Plus the horses are very old world with large hooves and a heck of a lot of presence. A compelling and beautiful film.

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286 out of 374 people found the following review useful:

Must see mystery!

Author: (rublico) from United States
30 April 2006

I just saw this wonderful film at the San Francisco Film Festival as a surprise entry. Beautifully shot and realized, it keeps you guessing until the end as to the true outcome. It was throughly entertaining and innovative. This movie has it all: romance, suspense, star crossed lovers and supernatural illusions. Edward Norton is perfectly cast as Eisenheim The Illusionist. His accent flowed seamlessly and he simply disappeared into the role. The real revelation to me was none other than Paul Giamatti. Paul's richly accented role was not altogether unlike Tommy Lee Jones' role in The Fugitive. I found his scenes with Norton full of respect and begrudging admiration. It was an absolute joy to see these two pros at work. I will definitely be paying to see this one again when it's released theatrically.

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206 out of 271 people found the following review useful:

Worth the price of tickets

Author: Maddie from United States
3 July 2006

The Illusionist is a very entertaining movie. The beginning of the movie sets an awesome foundation for the rest of the film to work with, without making the rest of the movie predictable and pointless. Although the basic story of boy gets girl, boy loses girl may not be original, the way the plot is presented with the excellent magical imagery keeps one interested in Edward Norton's character. My only complaint would be that the movie needs a little editing towards the end as the creators seem to show basically the same scene over and over in an attempt to drive home Norton's character's emotional distress. Unfortunately, this gets a little monotonous for viewers. Still, Norton, Sewell, Giamatti (and surprisingly Biel) provide excellent performances that, along with the beautiful cinematography, make a great movie.

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177 out of 224 people found the following review useful:

A beautifully crafted and gorgeous film!

Author: aaron_poubelle
14 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went to this see this film knowing only the names of the actors, having seen no trailers and having read no reviews. It is one of the best movies I've seen in years! I was completely captivated, as were almost all of the others in the audience, judging by the loud applause. I love magic shows and was delighted by the authentic look of Eisenheim's illusions performed on a stage having at most a chair and a table, lit by limelights. Other reviewers have described better than I the beautiful scenery, music, visuals, and acting and have given the movie high marks..

Then there are the reviewers who post spoilers and others who claim to have "figured it out" way before the end and therefore give it low scores. They are kin to those in a magicians audience who cannot appreciate the illusion but spend all their time guessing how the trick is done and must tell everyone they know the secret. Ignore them! Go see the movie and be drawn in to a fascinating story!

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166 out of 221 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful, suspenseful, sensual escape from reality

Author: coolpop54
16 September 2006

I love movies of all type for different reasons. Action movies to become stimulated physically, comedies to laugh my troubles away, suspense to sit on the edge of my seat. But mostly, I attend movies to escape from a humdrum and dangerous world. "The Illusionist" is the ultimate in escape movies. It is gripping from he opening scene and the grip lasts until the final realization. The story is masterfully crafted and the screenplay intriguing. The special effects and illusions are entertainment enough. But all of this surrounded in the backdrop of the story, it's movement from one idea to another is an added treat. First there is the marvelous acting of all the major actors, surrounded by great support. The cinematography and music are awesome. This movie is filled with entertainment, suspense, romance, sensuality tastefully done, treachery and surprises. I have not been so entranced by a movie since the first Banderas Zorro movie. I didn't look at my watch once and the one hour and forty-five minutes flew by in delight. I want to see this movie over and over again. and I will still marvel at its perfection. You all must go and see it.

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183 out of 273 people found the following review useful:

Simply a wonderful film! Absolutely stunning Cinemaptography!

Author: michaelzstuff from California
16 September 2006

I loved this movie. It's just that simple. I've seen it several times and the charm never wears off. Yes, it ultimately is a 'feel good movie', but is that so wrong? It keeps you mesmerized until the very last scene. This film is destined to be a classic.

As I read some of the other comments about this movie on IMDb, I realize that cynicism can easily get in the way of just enjoying a movie for what it is. This is a magnificent film! Edward Norton and Paul Giametti are terrific and so is the rest of the cast. The cinematography was stunning. The script was superb. The direction was outstanding. I really can't say anything bad about this film. I thoroughly recommend this movie! I could give it no less than a 10.

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121 out of 160 people found the following review useful:

A Truly Outstanding Movie

Author: wmjaho from Park City
24 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hats off to director Neil Burger. He bit off a big challenge with The Illusionist, and he pulled it off admirably. This is a very liberal adaptation of a Steven Millhauser story about a magician in Victorian era in Vienna. Shot entirely in the Czech Republic at gorgeously befitting locations, this is a beautifully made period piece, complete with genuine turn-of-the-century illusions, a wonderful soundtrack, lovely cinematography and an intriguing story.

Edward Norton plays Eisenheim, the magician who lost his first love as a young boy because they were separated by classes, but years later when he is touring Vienna rediscovers her in the form of Princess Sophie (Jessica Beil). Unfortunately, Sophie is engaged to be married to the unseemly Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), who immediately takes a dislike to Eisenheim, chiefly because he fails to debunk his illusions. Prince Leopold, not one to do his own dirty work, relies upon Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to handle Eisenheim.

Edward Norton is great as Eisenheim. (That shouldn't be surprising as he's turned in some truly remarkable performances in the past—Fight Club, American History XXX, Rounders and The Score.) And of course Paul Giamatti is excellent as well, although his role is something of a departure for him. But perhaps most surprising is Biel, who is not only radiantly beautiful in this movie, but shows surprising talent as well, and holds her screen presence toe to toe with Norton.

Burger has managed to pull off really a remarkable film. The plot moves along steadily. There is also a very consistent tonality--a foreboding dreariness that perfectly matches the subject matter and the period. (In the same way that David Lynch did with The Elephant Man.) The illusions are captivating and almost believable. The love story is touching. And Eisenheim is a compelling and sympathetic hero, blessed with such unconventionally heroic talents that the entire movie feels fresh and alive.

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95 out of 126 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Classiest Films You'll See All Year

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
15 January 2007

First of all, let me say this was a beautifully-filmed movie, just gorgeous from first to last frame. That gets big points with me. Just as impressive was the story, a fantasy-mystery- romance-drama combination set in Vienna, Austria, around the turn of the 20th century.

It is a story that should keep most viewers intrigued all the way and perhaps surprised quite a bit at the end. Edward Norton does his normal job of making you fascinated with whatever character he's playing, this time a magician with almost supernatural powers: "Herr Eisenheim." The character he plays, and the tone of the movie in general, is pretty low-key with next to nothing in (on screen) violence or profanity.

It's simply a classy film and a modern-day one that older folks would very much enjoy as well as younger adults. Paul Giamatti also is very interesting as the police inspector, torn between his allegiance to the villain crown prince and to the truth and what is the right thing to do. The movie, however, belongs to Norton.

In a nutshell: good stuff, classy film. I haven't talked to anybody yet who watched this and didn't like it.

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