There's a charming simplicity to THE ILLUSIONIST which has suffered repeated comparison to Nolan's serpentine PRESTIGE. A beautifully-shot period romance that unwisely switches to mystery mode, it contains two very good things. First: Rufus Sewell's quietly explosive portrayal of tragic Prince Leopold who is, in my mind, unfairly maligned as villain by a creepy magician (Ed Norton). And second: Philip Glass.
It's a movie about illusions, but the first half is mostly flat melodrama that bored me. Even the magic tricks didn't seem that impressive (probably because they were CGI). When a murder's thrown in the mix, things finally get interesting, but the third act pulls a twist ending out of nowhere and to me it felt forced and too convenient. The acting was fine, but I wouldn't recommend it.
An enjoyable story with excellent sets and a nice semi-twist in the tale. Unfortunately it skirts the edge of CG versus real illusion a little too often taking away the authenticity when it was needed most. That said, the scene where Giamatti's character unfolds the deception is a moment of real magic.
A beautiful film with charming performances, a stunning soundtrack by Philip Glass, sumptuous visuals and enough intrigue to keep one guessing. The main "trick" was perhaps a little obvious, but there was still enough mystery to keep me hooked! A very enjoyable film, perfect for a relaxed afternoon.