The Illusionist (2006)

Reid, 6. October 2006, 0:47

Starring: Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biehl, etc.

I may be a little hard on this film, giving it a five, but with the cast, premise and the fact that the film has stayed in Honolulu theaters for a while, I was expecting more than a better-than-average TV movie. (Larri initially gave it an 8 and dropped it to a 7.) I would guess Penny and Grace would like this more than I did, and maybe Mitchell, Tony and Don, too. Taking a guess, I’d say you guys would give this a 6 or 7.

The film is about a magician, his long lost love, an evil prince and his lackey of a police inspectator. The film takes place in Vienna (?) in the 19th Century (maybe early 20th).

The film was slow in part, but that wasn’t the main problem. I just found the acting, story and overall direction stale and flat (partly the basis for the TV remark).


The whole “trick” in the film was also unsatisfying. I think getting me excited about a film with a “con job” is going to take a lot.

Mitchell, April 2007
Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel

I won’t go as far as Reid and say this is about as good as a good television movie, but I can see why he’d say it. The plot is pretty dang linear, and pretty straightforward. I didn’t care for Norton’s acting here — it seemed detached and lackluster — but I did like Jessica Biel and of course I enjoyed Paul Giamatti.

The less said about the plot, the better for potential viewers. I will say that the romantic tension is sweet; I really liked Jessica Biel’s character and I bought the Biel/Norton relationship. I wish more were done with the Giamatti/Norton dynamic, but the 90 minutes this film fits into really don’t allow that.

However, it is interesting enough and engaging enough not to be a waste of time. Good for a rental.

I still don’t understand why American, English-language films set in non-English-speaking countries are filled with British accents. It doesn’t make sense. The characters would have been speaking German, in all likelihood (they even refer to each other as Herr So-and-So). However, the actors are not. I don’t get why British accents are called for in this case! If the actors speak with British accents naturally, then fine. But why affect a British accent for a film in which the characters would have been speaking German? What illusion is being created with that?


Slight spoiler:
This film does not pass the Sixth Sense test: Watching it again does not make you say, “Aha. There it is.” That’s a major ripoff.

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