Notes and Editorial Reviews
Principal cast includes: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell.
Directed by Neil Burger.
Picture: Widescreen; color.
Subtitles: English, Spanish.
Sound: Dolby Surround 5.1.
DVD Region Code: 1.
DVD special features include:
- Featurettes - Making Of, Jessica Biel on The Illusionist.
- Theatrical trailer.
In 1900 Vienna, a magician named Eisenheim the Illusionist is mystifying audiences with a remarkable magic act that is seemingly too good to believe. Chief Inspector Uhl, who is in the pocket of Crown Prince Leopold--and considers himself somewhat of an amateur
conjurer--becomes obsessed with Eisenheim; Uhl is not only desperate to find out the secrets behind Eisenheim's tricks but also worried that the master magician might pose a threat to the crown prince's nefarious plans. In addition, Eisenheim is quickly growing close to Duchess Sophie von Teschen, his childhood love, who is engaged to Leopold. As Eisenheim's act becomes even more amazing--including apparently raising the spirits of the dead--he enrages the crown prince even further, leading to deception and murder. Edward Norton (FIGHT CLUB), who studied magic with Ricky Jay (THE SPANISH PRISONER) in preparing for the role, is terrific as Eisenheim, an enigmatic showman hiding a dark side. The excellent supporting cast features fine performances by Rufus Sewell (A KNIGHT'S TALE) as the evil, conniving Leopold; Jessica Biel (7TH HEAVEN) as the beautiful Sophie; and Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS) as the perceptive but bumbling Uhl. Written and directed by Neil Burger (INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN), THE ILLUSIONIST, which is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prizewinner Steven Millhauser, is a complex tale filled with mystery and awe. The compelling score was composed by minimalist musician Philip Glass and conducted by Michael Reisman.
The Illusionist casts an exquisitely bewitching spell with its dreamy atmosphere and pervasive sense of suspense. . . . Based on 'Eisenheim, the Illusionist,' a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Millhauser, this suspenseful and stylish film has a welcome sense of originality . . . . The story is rendered fluidly, with gorgeous production design, and the haunting score by Philip Glass adds to the spellbinding quality. . . . The alluring and absorbing
Illusionist proves that a film need not be mindless fluff or ridiculously far-fetched to qualify as escapist entertainment." -- USA Today "[R]igorously styled….Every one of Norton's postures feels chosen. Yet the interesting actor has chosen so thoughtfully that we're riveted." -- Grade: B+ -- Entertainment Weekly
"Entertaining....A pungent period folk tale that teases until the very end." -- The New York Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]onderfully staged, with Norton on fine form as the weirdly charismatic Eisenheim and Giamatti as the perfect foil." -- Uncut
"[B]eautifully shot, engrossing and well-acted....It's a solid, enjoyable film..." -- Ultimate DVD
"[W]hat THE ILLUSIONIST does well is create a compelling atmosphere, abetted by Dick Pope's nicely judged cinematography..." -- Sight and Sound
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