Thursday, February 17, 2011

20/50: The Illusionist

I wanted to pair these two films together, because they both had the theme of illusion/magic in them. It is odd that in 2006 both of these films came out, and both featured, if not the same, but similar plot lines.

The Illusionist is much more of a - like I mentioned in my Pretty in Pink review - Romeo & Juliet-type story.

The film starts in the past and shows a young Eisenheim becoming friends, and soon falling in love, with a young girl named Sophie. Eisenheim is a peasant boy while Sophie is of rich and royal decent. So, this love affair is prohibited.

Fast forward many years and Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is becoming a very successful illusionist. In his former hometown, he becomes a bit of a hit, especially from local law-enforcer, Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti). As the word spreads, Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) wants to see the show - including Duchess Sophie (Jessica Biel).

Eisenheim recognizes Sophie right away, but it takes her longer to realize that this is in fact the young boy she fell in love with years ago.

The rest of the film plays out like Ocean's Eleven, in my opinion. It's another film that you have to pay attention to as things unfold - and the payoff is pretty amazing.

Honestly, as close as the two films are, I think I enjoyed this one a tiny bit more - even though the grade won't show it.

More great actors in this film that had great performances - I don't think I have seen Sewell in anything else except A Knight's Tale, but he truly plays a great villain.



  1. When I first watched both films around the same time, I also enjoyed The Illusionist more, mostly thanks to its ending. However, like I said in my other comment, The Prestige has become great after so many subsequent viewings that I don't think The Illusionist holds a candle to it.

  2. I have yet to watch The Prestige multiple times (need to buy the DVD already), but I think in time I'll be with Nick (and most others). I loved The Illusionist upon its release, but subsequent viewings of it have tarnished it a bit. You see just how obvious the twist was, and the story isn't layered enough. Even more, I'm still bothered by how little Norton is actually in this movie that he's supposedly the star of.