In late nineteenth century Vienna, renowned illusionist Eisenheim is reunited with the Duchess von Teschen when she is volunteered from the audience to participate in an illusion during one of his performances. Despite having not seen each other in fifteen years when they were teenagers, they almost immediately recognize each other as Eduard Abramovich and Sophie von Teschen, they who had a doomed romance at that time due to their class differences. The Duchess is soon to be wed to the Crown Prince Leopold in what would be for him a marriage solely in pursuit of power: overthrowing his father, the Emperor Leopold, as well as overtaking the Hungarian side of the empire. The Crown Prince is known to use violence against women if it suits his needs or purposes. As such, the Duchess, who realizes that she still loves Eisenheim and he her, can never leave the Crown Prince without it jeopardizing her life. After Eisenheim humiliates the Crown Prince at a private show which results in an ...Written by
Like the Moody Blues song asks--"real or just an illusion?"
Kind of a strange movie but very original and entertaining! It was a Gothic-romance period-piece drama-mystery, and quirky characters and a bizarre--or at least unusual--plot held my interest.
Edward Norton's character plays an inscrutable but romantic master illusionist. But is he just a master illusionist or has he developed powers to effect the creepy conjuring of those who have passed on? (Regardless, the guy is so easy on the eyes.)
Jessica Biel is beautiful and good in her role but I couldn't help thinking, "Hey, Jessica, Scarlett Johanssen called. She wants her lips back."
Paul Giamatti bothered me just a tad at first because he spoke in a near-whisper and had a scruffy beard so you couldn't read his lips. He got louder and his character developed pretty darned well, thank goodness. Actually, he was fantastic (so what else is new?).
The makers of this movie did the same thing the makers of Little Miss Sunshine did--made me want to see the film twice, but for different reasons: LMS because the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried, and I really needed a laugh again (and got it); The Illusionist because I was like the audience for the title character's shows the first time I saw it--just kind of naive and awed and staring up at the action with my mouth hanging open. So I'll have to see it again and pay attention. Kind of like when my daughter told me to go see The Sixth Sense again and pay attention to what Bruce Willis's character was wearing. (Plot-wise, this is unrelated, folks--just a movie watcher's analogy.)
At first, the old-fashioned circle wipes seemed a little distracting, but in retrospect, they were part of the excellent movie-making decisions that created the illusion of time and place in this film. A really good story with really good art direction and really good actors, costumes and settings. Definitely worth a go-see--or two!
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