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Derren Brown: Messiah (2005)

Derren Brown takes on a number of fake identities as he travels across the USA trying to convince people of his abilities in the area of psychic powers and the supernatural world.

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Credited cast:
...
Host / Illusionist
Lorraine DiFelice ...
Herself
Ann Druffel ...
Herself
Abby Haydon ...
Herself
Janet Hohavec ...
Herself
Curt Nordhielm ...
Himself
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Derren Brown takes on a number of fake identities as he travels across the USA trying to convince people of his abilities in the area of psychic powers and the supernatural world.

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7 January 2005 (UK)  »

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Brown is impressive but the film is not what it proposes to be
15 October 2008 | by See all my reviews

In an attempt to explore how easy it is to accept particular faiths without questioning, Brown travels to the US to pose as a series of characters proclaiming to have gifts ranging from the psychic to someone who can convert to Christianity just by touch. His goal is to find out how easily experts in these fields can take to his "gifts" (which are totally illusion it must be noted) and agree to publicly endorse him. From the start he acknowledges that, if anyone asks him directly "is this a trick" then he will fess up.

I've not seen much Derren Brown mainly because, with watching so many movies all the time it doesn't leave a lot of time for watching television and I do tend to be picky, preferring dramas to "light entertainment" style programmes. This sounds very snotty I know but it just means I don't watch a lot of Brown. Messiah sounded interesting though and I checked it out. The previous time I had seen Brown, it was a broadcast version of his live show and I had found it very impressive in what he does. This is the problem with Messiah though, because the "tricks" are not "performed" so much as they were in that show. Instead he plays it straight and he is not only very convincing in his characters but also impressive in his skills and in this way the film is still engaging in a "how does he do that" way. The central argument about us accepting spiritual ideas without questioning is a fair one but not one that he really makes that well by never confronting anyone with the news that he is totally a fraud or by having any discussion around the subject.

Of course he never had this in his act I saw but by putting this film up as an exploration and discussion, it is a problem then to leave the only "discussion" to a guy driving a horse and cart over the end credits. Otherwise though, the film is still engaging to see Brown at work and fans of his will love it – for me though, it did not have as much substance as it suggested it would and it does feel like an excuse for him to do his thing rather than the film that it proposes to be.


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