During Harry Houdini's (Guy Pearce's) tour of Britain in 1926, the master escapologist enters into a passionate affair with a Scottish psychic. The psychic and her daughter attempt to con Houdini during a highly publicized séance to contact his mother whose death has haunted him for many years. However, all does not go to plan.
Guy Pearce and Saoirse Ronan appeared in Mary Queen of Scots (2018). See more »
The opening scene reveals the partially built arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge behind Houdini as he is lifted to the surface of the water. Houdini died in 1926. Construction of the arches did not commence until 1928. See more »
[with Scottish accent]
When I was very small, I had a gift. I saw things other folk did nae see. It was like looking into deep water and seein' things on the other side. As I grew up, the gift vanished, just like my mam said it would. And I saw the world as it really was - with all its sweet lies and trickery. The great Houdini came into our lives, and changed everything forever.
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The Flowers of Edinburgh
[Played by fiddler in the pub] See more »
Truth Defying Facts
Gillian Armstrong's 'Death Defying Acts' is somewhat of a letdown. It tells the fictional story of a poor but beautiful psychic-wannabe and Houdini through her daughter's point of view. One must be warned that this film is fictional and thus, Pearce's Houdini does not bear much resemblance to the real one. This one lacks the enigma that made the real Houdini so fascinating. Nor does 'Death Defying Acts' stay true to the historical facts. The focus is much more on the psychic aspects (which wasn't that well explored either). The romance between Houdini and Mary is a little repetitive as it moves back and forth between trust and mistrust and then it becomes confusing. There was something lacking. On the plus side, Timothy Spall, Saoirse Ronan and Catherine Zeta-Jones perform well. The sensual Zeta-Jones does part of a scintillating dance as well. Guy Pearce performs good sometimes but he looks confused in many other scenes. The visuals and cinematography are stunning. The background score is whimsical and pleasing. Overall, it is an average movie that could have been better. One ought not to watch 'Death Defying Acts' as a true account but rather try to enjoy it as a work of fiction.
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