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The Illusionist

A drama movie directed by Neil Burger

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Exquisite Love Story

  • Mar 6, 2007
Others have discussed the plot of the movie, so I won't bore you with minutia.

The Illusionist is an exquisite love story (a genre I'm not normally fond of) and supernatural mystery. (Is it supernatural...or is it an illusion? That question is part of what makes this movie so alluring.)

With the amazing ability to morph into any character, Ed Norton is one of America's finest actors (remember his turn as a mentally/physically challenged man in The Score--or his turn as a former Neo-nazi skin headin American History X?). Rufus Sewell is delicious as the bad guy (sans those luscious curls this time) and Jessica Biel proves to be far more than just a pretty face. Paul Giamatti--well, is there any role he HASN'T been perfect for?

The musical score is breathtaking (Philip Glass), as is the cinematography. I was transported to the cobblestone streets of Austria, right into the heart of intrigue, illusion, deception, and passion. I was surprised at the ending, despite usually being the one who "saw it coming". The writing is fantastic, too. My husband is on a kick of saying "Do you claim to have supernatural powers?" (Sewell's line) to which he answers himself (Norton's line) "I've claimed no such thing." (LOL) But anyway, there's an amazing undercurrent of tension to this movie that belies the brilliantly understated portrayals by the actors.

The disappointing elment is the "extras". Boy, what a rip off! Others have already complained and said what is wrong: there ARE, in essence, no extras! I very much wanted to find about where the movie was shot, about the author of the book, about the history/mechanics used by illusionists (see The Prestige!), and so on. Shame on 20th Century Fox for shafting viewers with the absence of extras! And I would have LOVE to have seen a more indepth interview of Ed Norton, Rufus Sewell, and Paul Giamatti!

If you appreciate fine movies that are smart, elegant, intriguing and slower paced than the norm, you'll likely enjoy The Illusionist. The Prestige is another fantastic movie, but to compare it to The Illusionist is a mistake--because the central themes are quite different.

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More The Illusionist reviews
review by . December 30, 2009
As good as The Prestige and more....
Like Morpheus said in the Matrix," What is real? How do you define real?" Well I'm here to tell you that after you see this movie you'll be asking yourself that very same question, The Illusionist is dark, mysterious, taunt, intelligent,complex, breath taking and enchanting. It's a film for the ages.            When I first saw The Illusionist I was kind of skeptical. I kept thinking that Neil Burger had ripped off The Prestige and created his own …
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
this movie didnt get much box office attention but i picked it up in a bargin bin and i really like it....the story line is really compelling and dramatic.
Quick Tip by . August 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Smart, enjoyable, and quite surprising at the end, The Illusionist will appeal to anyone with an affinity for mysteries, magic, or Edward Norton (What? He's awesome!)
Quick Tip by . June 04, 2010
Eh, it was all right. I felt like it was a rip-off of The Prestige.
review by . December 24, 2008
DVD cover
It's odd, but in the year 2006 there were two major motion pictures to feature stories about magicians and/or illusionists. The first film was The Illusionist, while the second film was The Prestige. In my humble opinion The Prestige is a superior film mainly because of the film's technical execution under the watchful eye of director Christopher Nolan.    But I digress.    The Illusionist is a surprisingly engaging suspense film with strong supernatural or "fantasy" …
review by . April 29, 2009
The movie opens with Richard Norton on a stage in late 1800's Austria performing some sort of magic trick when a group of soldiers bursts in to arrest him. The rest of the movie is a "flashback" leading up to that scene. We find Norton's character as a boy coming across a mysterious man by a tree. You don't know if Norton actually met him or imagined him as the guy disappears. Norton has an interest in magic and his character meets a well to do girl who he becomes friends with. The two …
review by . February 11, 2009
It is 1900 in Vienna, and the Chief Inspector (Paul Giamatti) is telling the story of a peasant boy who was once the secret playmate and love of little Countess Sophie; they planned to run away together, but their plan was discovered and they were separated. The boy traveled the world and learned the secrets of magic, returning home as "Eisenheim, the Illusionist" (Edward Norton). He is reunited with the Countess (Jessica Biel) again, quite by accident, during one of his shows and they resume their …
review by . March 25, 2007
"The Illusionist" is a beautiful film, artfully designed to seduce lovers of period pieces and high fantasy. It's not particularly deep - nor is it necessarily all that brilliant. But, like any good conjurer's trick, this film is entertaining. The high points are the production design and the acting. Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti speak in weirdly soft tones for much of the film, but they manage to convey a wide range of emotions anyway, and both of them play very compelling characters. I had no …
review by . March 15, 2007
Edward Norton has a habit of acting in movies with twists and turns. This latest flick from 2006 is no exception, and is probably his best role yet. Here, he plays the stage magician Eisenheim, a subtle, humble yet cunning artist who encounters his childhood love, Sophie, one evening at a public performance. Straight away he strives to regain her love and steal her away from the future prince of Austria. The prince however, is no pushover and has the local police chief in his pocket. Eisenheim and …
review by . February 03, 2007
Edward Norton heads up a wonderful cast which includes Rufus Sewell, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel in "The Illusionist." It's a wonderful story of just how far a man will go to get back to the love of his life. Norton portrays Eisenheim, an illusionist who has a penchant for bizarre, almost supernatural magic tricks that captivate his audience. As a teen, he falls for a young duchess (Biel). However, he being the poor son of commoners and she being royalty, their love is forbidden and the two are …
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Janet Boyer ()
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Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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About this movie


First screened in Europe and scheduled for limited release in the U.S.,The Illusionistoffers 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 ofSeventh Heavenalumna 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 Illusionistis the kind of class act that fully deserved its unusually wide and appreciative ...
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Director: Neil Burger
Genre: Drama
Release Date: August 18, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1hr 49min
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