9 August 2006 | mkane5
Like the Moody Blues song asks--"real or just an illusion?"
Kind of a strange movie but very original and entertaining! It was a Gothic-romance period-piece drama-mystery, and quirky characters and a bizarre--or at least unusual--plot held my interest.
Edward Norton's character plays an inscrutable but romantic master illusionist. But is he just a master illusionist or has he developed powers to effect the creepy conjuring of those who have passed on? (Regardless, the guy is so easy on the eyes.)
Jessica Biel is beautiful and good in her role but I couldn't help thinking, "Hey, Jessica, Scarlett Johanssen called. She wants her lips back."
Paul Giamatti bothered me just a tad at first because he spoke in a near-whisper and had a scruffy beard so you couldn't read his lips. He got louder and his character developed pretty darned well, thank goodness. Actually, he was fantastic (so what else is new?).
The makers of this movie did the same thing the makers of Little Miss Sunshine did--made me want to see the film twice, but for different reasons: LMS because the first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried, and I really needed a laugh again (and got it); The Illusionist because I was like the audience for the title character's shows the first time I saw it--just kind of naive and awed and staring up at the action with my mouth hanging open. So I'll have to see it again and pay attention. Kind of like when my daughter told me to go see The Sixth Sense again and pay attention to what Bruce Willis's character was wearing. (Plot-wise, this is unrelated, folks--just a movie watcher's analogy.)
At first, the old-fashioned circle wipes seemed a little distracting, but in retrospect, they were part of the excellent movie-making decisions that created the illusion of time and place in this film. A really good story with really good art direction and really good actors, costumes and settings. Definitely worth a go-see--or two!