The Illusionist (2006)

The Illusionist (2006)
  • Time: 110 min
  • Genre: Drama | Mystery | Romance
  • Director: Neil Burger
  • Cast: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti


A supernaturally talented magician attempts to undermine the rigid social structure of turn-of-the-century Vienna by using his powers to win the love of his upper-class, childhood sweetheart in director Neil Burger’s cinematic adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser’s short story. Though the ill-fated childhood romance between cabinetmaker’s son Eisenheim (Edward Norton) and upper-class Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel) eventually resulted in the heartbroken young man leaving Austria to explore the world, his dreams of one day reuniting with the beautiful duchess never faded. Upon returning to Vienna 15 years later as a talented and renowned illusionist, Eisenheim’s hopes of a reunion seem dashed when he learns that Sophie is currently engaged to the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). As the tensions between the Eisenheim and Leopold elevate, urbane Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) finds his sympathy toward Eisenheim growing, despite his formal obligations to the powerful prince.

One comment

  • Neil Burger’s career is just beginning, but for his second work, “The Illusionist”, he received a high critical acclaim and even managed to overshadow another prestige films of the moment, “The Prestige”. Actually, as it happens between the comparison of “Hulk” 2003 and 2008 versions, both movies possess virtues according to the shortcomings of the another movie

    According to the comparison between the two films, “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist”, Neil Burger’s film is more enjoyable and accessible. It lacks the over-data and production that Nolan’s film aims (and sometimes is confusing or heavy). But by contrast, ” The Illusionist ” is not as deep as the post- “Memento ” experiment from ” The Prestige “ nor solves too well the rules of a thriller

    “The Illusionist” is misleading. You think you’re watching a very good movie… but no. While the film as a whole is enjoyable and amazing on visual tricks, there are problems in the direction, in the performances and in the ending. Neil Burger filmed correctly and with a tendency to sugar, eg the musical backdrops as well as flashbacks of the film that are too consistent and misplaced -we already have a flashback in the first minutes of the film, which tells a 50 % of the story of the protagonist- As for performances, two bizarre characters: Rufus Sewell, who plays a fairly anonymous crown prince, even in his accidental abduction of rage is surprisingly bland. But the really weird actor is Paul Giamatti, who is a competent actor but flat on his location in space-time: just seem he is not in the time and the fact that ” The Illusionist ” tells; this man smiling with fascination and has expressions of joy or rarity which are poorly inserted in the context of the film, also his OFF voice seems a typical showman or presenter. Giamatti is who ruining part of the film, as he takes up a lot of prominence

    But ” The Illusionist ” has other problems. There are many magic tricks that fall within the realm of fantasy and science fiction, but unlike cloning machine of “The Prestige”, the script does not explain here that has crossed that barrier. In “The Illusionist” There are holographic visions, embodied by the clairvoyance of the protagonist Norton, but never you know how to achieve that trick. Of course, we do not know the trick of the sword for example; and indeed this would not be so bad if it was not the same Edward Norton decided, in a moment of the film, disappearing in public thanks to this trick. Did the script can do what want when want with no questions asked? It’s a Deus Ex Machina

    And as a thriller, does not work very well. It may be caused by the argument itself, which is forced to follow Norton ‘s character, instead of investigate the crime. That’s why , when finally the script decides to continue with the crime and expose the resolution in the end, it does in a rush , spitting at 1000 kms per second all the details of the plan. It seems that Paul Giamatti had a moment of revelation, and not a logical deduction product of his brain

    “The Illusionist” should, strictly speaking, have two and a half stars out of five, or three stars out of five. It is much more enjoyable than “The Prestige” and so the four-star rating on its own terms, as it is very easy to be dazzled with the primary palette of magic tricks, eg is fascinating the trick of the orange in slow speed. It is a film that succeeds by the charm of its surface

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