Customer Review

73 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sepia-toned Beauty in Mystery and Passion, September 23, 2006
Set in Vienna, filmed in Prague,and just about as lovely as anything I've seen on the large screen, "The Illusionist" stars Edward Norton as a charismatic magician, and Jessica Biel as his high-born love interest. In keeping with its magic and later, occult, theme, the film unwinds through shadow and darkness, like a carriage being horsedrawn through fin-de-siecle Europe's narrow streets. Philip Glass's minimalist score, rather than acting as an anachronism as one might expect, enhances the ethereal, other-worldly quality. Edward Norton brings to Eisenheim, the central character (the book is based on the short story "Eisenheim, the Illusionist", by Steven Millhauser)an understated quality that adds to the sense that he always knows more than we do...and more than the characters in the film, including the two that most want to undo his works of magic, Inspector Uhl and Crown Prince Leopold. Unfortunately, the latter is engaged to Dutchess Sophie van Teschen, Biel's character. Leopold's intent is not only to prevent his lower class rival's success, but to control Sophie completely. Uhl, on the other hand, continues to respect Eisenheim, even as he is carrying out the Crown Prince's orders to shut the magician's show down.

As the tale unwinds (and it does ever more quickly as it moves toward the end), we do learn more and more about what lies behind Eisenheim's sad eyes. When Sophie's body turns up in the river after an argument with Leopold, Eisenheim's shows take on a dark change and he becomes kind of a "John Edwards" of the 19th century...but this John Edwards can summon holographic ghosts onto the stage, much to the delight of his audience. Is he becoming more and more obsessed and perhaps insane as Sophie begins to appear in these seances? In a twinkling, we find out as much about Eisenheim as we have during the entire film, and the lines in the Sophie-Leopold-Eisenheim triangle between the innocent and the devious aren't so clear.

A film to be savored.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 10, 2007 6:55:56 PM PST
Kona says:
Great review, Kelly!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2007 8:39:27 PM PST
Thanks Kona! :-)

Posted on Mar 29, 2007 1:59:06 PM PDT
You gave away the end! Shame on you!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 15, 2007 8:32:36 PM PDT
I do no such thing. The death of Sophie comes in the middle of the film, providing the supposed impetus for Eisenheim's change from "magician" to "medium". The actual end of the story, as you know if you have seen it, brings many more surprises.

Posted on Jul 12, 2007 5:42:10 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 30, 2008 4:49:49 PM PDT]
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Location: Plymouth, MI United States

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