With his eye on a lovely aristocrat, a gifted illusionist named Eisenheim uses his powers to win her away from her betrothed, a crown prince. But Eisenheim's scheme creates tumult within the monarchy and ignites the suspicion of a dogged inspector.
When I looked at this film for the first time I was unsure it would be any good... I was completely amazed by how this film was good. The actors all played there role very well. The film has a very good storyline and I was compelled to watch it. All in all a great movie, worth watching.
Life and death. Space and time. Fate and chance. Theses are the forces of the universe. The Illusionist is directed by Neil Burger and Burger adapts the screenplay from "Eisenheim the Illusionist" written by Steven Millhauser. It stars Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell. Music is by Philip Glass and cinematography by Dick Pope. How splendid, a period romantic mystery that's filled with the mysticism of magical conjurings and political volatility. Plot essentially has Norton as Eisenheim The Illusionist, who later in life runs into Sophie (Biel), his childhood sweetheart, and finds that she's on course to marry Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). Leopold has a bad reputation and it's not long before Eisenheim comes under Leopold's disdain, forcing Eisenheim to try and pull off the ultimate magic act to save Sophie and himself. Creator Neil Burger crafts a picture that has everything going for it. The story is rock solid with intrigue credentials, where appropriately for a story based around magic tricks nothing is ever as it seems. The period flavours are smartly assembled, the Czech Republic locations smartly standing in for turn of the century Vienna, the art production is on point with the era of setting, as is the costuming. Glass drifts a tender melancholic score over the piece, while Pope's cinematography is simply gorgeous, offering up colour lensing that's aura enhancing, the kind you could get lost in for days. The magic tricks are beguiling, as they should be and are in fact required since the narrative tantalisingly suggests Eisenheim may have supernatural powers? The story itself has no historical worth, but is fascinating none the less. It all builds towards its revelations, and much hinges on if the pay off is worth the admission fee? Most assuredly so it is, even if from a personal point of view this writer wouldn't have minded if pic had finished five minutes before the final revelation. Either way, and with smart acting (Giamatti as the police inspector standing out) without histrionics holding things at the top end, this is delicate film making that engages the emotions fully for entertainment rewards. 8/10
Seen this movie several times over the years and still find it so entertaining and satisfying thanks in large part to Edward Norton's performance. In some ways, although not as expertly directed, I prefer this over The Prestige, which is a great movie in its own right.