[critical] The Illusionist

Vienna in the 1900s. Arises one day, the charismatic and mysterious illusionist Eisenheim, who was soon to become the man most famous of the city, the living incarnation of one magic in which nobody dared to believe again…

But the glory of Eisenheim is intolerable to the crown Prince Leopold, whose popularity decreases as grows that this showman consumed. Rationalist, convinced, eager for power, the Prince has one more reason to envy Eisenheim : he was the great love of youth of his fiancée, the lovely Sophie von Teschen, who still harbors for him very tender feelings.

Decided to eliminate this rival, Leopold instructs its man of confidence, inspector Uhl to investigate the illusionist and unveil its deceptions. A part tightly engages between the two men…

Author’s Note


Release Date : January 17, 2007

Directed by Neil Burger

Film american, Czech

With Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel

Duration : 1h50min

Original title : The Illusionist

Trailer :

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There are over, or almost over, illusionists appearing on stage in front of hundreds of people. There is more actually this star, this magic, this dream of guessing how he made his tour, how he was able to do what he has done. It is in this context that one must attack The Conjurer if you want to start watching.

We can already zap the film’s director, Neil Burger, who is unknown to the battalions, since The Illusionist is his second feature-length film at the cinema, and that the first, Interview With The Assassin, has remained unpublished in France. No, here, it is necessary to further dwell on 3 actors : Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell.

Edward Norton is quite average in this movie. There is no this glow that can be found easily in American History X, for example. Moreover, the scenario and the mounting in and of themselves are soft. We do not get bored, but we are waiting for the next scene with a certain impatience. Edward Norton would do everything for the woman he loves, including through the illusions of the most variety of preposterous figures (thank you Jacques) to each other. In this regard, it can still be said that most of them are almost not practical in real life. It doesn’t take too much to push mémé in the sandbox.

Paul Giamatti, with a filmography as long as my arm – Saving private Ryan, Man On The Moon, The Planet Of the Apes, Paycheck, The Girl Of the Water among other things – plays a police inspector who understands everything, but too late. Insightful in his role and in his play, he fly almost every appearance by retaining the viewer’s attention.

Rufus Sewell (Hamlet, Dark City) does a very good heir and a very good liar. The mustache is a little kitschounet, but it puts up pretty quickly. The prince is anti-magic, he believes in nothing except his personal victory in the face of his father, the king, in which he dreams of taking his place.

Remains a Jessica Biel (remember, 7 at Home) is decent. She transcends not the kind, far from it.

The scenario is well-crafted. We are not going to reveal anything but it should stay until the end to collect all the subtlety and illusion of the thing.

There are 2 Eisenheim in fact : as we can see in the street, shadows, and sometimes smiling, and the other, on stage, complexion pale and dark, and whose seriousness is unfazed.

Adapted from a novel by Steven Millhauser, The Illusionist suffers from a slow pace too noticeable in the frame of the film. These are the actors that create the twists and turns and not the script. The filming was done in Prague, where the natural scenery of the city stuck well to the time of the film, the 1900’s.

To finish on a good 2 notes, the film was presented in the official selection of the American Film Festival of Deauville in 2006 and the producers are none other than those of Collision or Sideways.

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