The Illusionist (2006)

I enjoyed this movie, but it wasn't spectacular. It's probably very tough these days to truly impress me because perfection has been attained by a few films, so it's easy to pick apart ones that come close.

What I did enjoy about the film were the tricks. The illusionist, Eisenheim (played seriously by Ed Norton of Fight Club), pulls off some pretty spectacular stunts, though it's pretty easy to guess that most of them were probably CGI, they looked so good. The fact they looked so good made them all the more enjoyable for me.

I also enjoyed the rustic, 19th century, Vienna where the film was set, though it was actually shot in Czech Republic. The regal costumes and the beautiful European forests were terrific background. I was disappointed with the accents which should have been German, but poor English ones. If the film was in German, I would have been a bit more convinced and taken in by The illusion.

As it turns out I wasn't terribly fooled by much in this movie. I consistently knew what was going to happen by the not so subtle clues placed throughout the movie. That's not to say that it wasn't enjoyable, it was very entertaining.

Paul Giamatti's (Lady in the Water & Sideways) character wasn't given much to play with. He was rather a flat character, which is too bad. In fact, most of the characters in the film were flat and monochrome. Everyone had 1 personal goal, which makes for a very distilled story, but not a very intriguing one.

I liked the fervour displayed briefly by the religious folks when it appears that Eisenheim has proven that there is life after death. This was one of the highlights of the film as it showed how easily the throngs can be fooled by a little showmanship.

Something that did bother me was the way it encouraged you to be happy about the outcome which includes one of the character's death. I sense this is a normal value in movies where you want the bad guy to die - mainly because all you are presented with in most movies is the bad sides of the "bad guy." It is a unique film that portrays the gracious side of the protagonist towards his nemesis. This is not one of those films.

Official Site | IMDB

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