The Illusionist (Full Screen Edition)
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A supernatural mystery that combines romance, politics and magic, The Illusionist is the latest film from the producers of the Oscar winners Crash and Sideways. The film stars Academy Award nominees Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti as two men pitted against each other in a battle of wits: Norton as mysterious stage magician Eisenheim, and Giamatti as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl, with Jessica Biel sharing the screen as the beautiful Sophie von Teschen. When word of Eisenheim's astounding illusions reaches the powerful and pragmatic Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), the ruler attends one of the magician's shows in order to debunk Eisenheim during the performance. But when the Prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and Sophie recognize each other from their childhoods
First screened in Europe and scheduled for limited release in the U.S., The Illusionist offers welcome proof that "arthouse" quality needn't be limited to the arthouses. Set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, this stately, elegant period film benefited from a crossover release in mainstream cinemas, and showed considerable box-office staying power--granted, teenage mallrats and lusty males may have been drawn to the allure of Seventh Heaven alumna Jessica Biel, who rises to the occasion with a fine performance. But there's equal appeal in the casting of Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti, who bring their formidable talents to bear on the intriguing tale of a celebrated magician named Eisenheim (Norton) whose stage performance offends the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), a vindictive lout who aims to marry Duchess Sophie (Biel), Eisenheim's childhood friend and now, 15 years later, his would-be lover. This romantic rivalry and Eisenheim's increasingly enigmatic craft of illusion are investigated by Chief Inspector Uhl (Giamatti), who's under Leopold's command and is therefore not to be trusted as Eisenheim and Sophie draw closer to their inevitable reunion. Cleverly adapted by director Neil Burger from Steven Millhauser's short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist," and boasting exquisite production values and a fine score by Philip Glass, The Illusionist is the kind of class act that fully deserved its unusually wide and appreciative audience. -- Jeff Shannon
Beyond The Illusionist
"Eisenheim the Illusionist" and Other Stories
Paul Giamatti in a More Loveable Role
Magic Kits & Accessories
- Making of The Illusionist Featurette
- Jessica Biel on The Illusionist
- Theatrical Trailer
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Top customer reviews
I probably should have taken off another star for this failing. If the extras were more substantial or if the commentary mattered to me, I would have. Maybe even two.
There are a number of wonderful moments, but there are also a few flaws. The ending seems just too neat for a film that raises such complex questions about the nature of truth and illusion, magic vs. science. The accents are a little all over the place, which can be distracting, and both Giamatti and Sewell – terrific actors – have some moments of theatricality that made me very aware of them ‘acting’.
None-the-less, a clever well laid out film, that gains it’s tension in a quiet, but powerful way.
The plot was a fairly basic "poor boy meets rich girl" with the usual forbidden relationship maneuvers. This storyline has been used before but the delivery of it and the magic background really made it fresh and original. I was totally submersed into the film within about 15-20 minutes which is always a good sign. I enjoyed the magic and the strange events surrounding the magic. Was it real? An Illusion? Mixed? Was anyone else involved in making it all work or did the illusionist work alone? These were all interesting points to ponder as the film rolled along.
Character-wise the movie did a gerat job of building relationships between key people and allowing the viewers to actually care for most of them. Even the supposed "bad guy"( Rufus Sewell) deserved our condolences as you will see. Ed Norton did his usual great job with his role and Paul Giamatti was excellent as the Police Inspector that was torn between whats right and wrong and whats best for his career. Jessica Biehl was a little bit out of her league here though and she was forcing her lines a little bit. This part was obviously a little bit of s stretch for her but she did try at least. Her accent was sort of bad and again...she just wasnt that believable. Shes great looking though which doesnt hurt.
I highly recommend this film. The scenery and atmosphere are terrific, the acting is mostly great, and there are enough interesting twists and turns to keep it fresh and interesting. It wasnt perfect by any means but few movies are. The key here is that they got this mostly right and its good enough to be watched more than once.
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