Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 09, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Illusionist

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
109 minutes
Wide Release Date
08/18/06
performer
Jessica Biel, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell
director
Neil Burger
distributor
Yari Film Group
author
Neil Burger
genre
ActionAdventure, Romance, Drama

We gave it a B+

Edward Norton, who stars, elegantly, as the title conjurer in The Illusionist, is known for the intelligence and intensity he brings to his roles. Norton’s vibe is highly analytical, and so penetrating that he can burn a hole through a picture if not properly handled or supported by strong material (it happened most recently in Down in the Valley). And in that regard, screenwriter-director Neil Burger capitalizes on Norton’s strengths quite well.

Based on a short story by Steven Millhauser, The Illusionist casts Norton as Eisenheim, a lovelorn Viennese stage magician, circa 1900, who confounds Paul Giamatti as a scam-sniffing Viennese police chief with his apparent ability to manipulate time and space while delighting audiences. Well, most audiences: Add Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), proud of his own cold logic, to the small list of those who feel threatened rather than impressed, and thus intent on exposing Eisenheim’s scams. What’s real? What’s illusion? What’s the power of love, the destructiveness of obsession? The Illusionist looks rigorously styled and measured, and every one of Norton’s postures feels chosen. Yet the interesting actor has chosen so thoughtfully that we’re riveted. And isn’t that a mark of great acting?

You May Like

Comments

EDIT POST