Combine fantasy, magic, romance and a crime mystery and one get this satisfying story that actually manage to make sense of it's complex ideas and it has great acting and production values too. What ruined it was it's timing. Had it arrived just a year before it wouldn't have been compared and compete against the more famous "The Prestige". Only lazy explanation sequences at the end wasn't really needed.
I don't know what the deal with Ed Norton is, but he only seemed like a good actor in 'Primal Fear' and 'Fight Club'. He just seems like he's playing himself. Hollywood is driven by fear, and if a picture is greenlit, then the other studios will try to beat them in releasing a similar movie first. If the first one does well, then the other usually tanks. In this case, this is not a good movie. See 'The Prestige'.
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.