This beautiful 1920's period film is a must see by any standards. Producers Chris Curling and Marion Macgowan were proud to have Academy Award winner Catherine Zeta Jones play the fictitious role of Mary McGarvie, and Director Gillian Armstrong pays tribute to the degree of commitment Guy Pearce brought to the role of Harry Houdini appearing in Edinburgh in 1926, during the last year of his life. Academy Award Nominee, Saoirse Ronan adds sparkle to the action as Benji, the young psychic teenage daughter of Mary, reflecting the same beauty and composure of Catherine Zeta Jones.
A Scottish accent becomes Catherine, as sultry Mary, who delights theatre audiences by dancing in a Princes Lielia costume like a Belly Dancer, and faking psychic knowledge with the help of Benji dressed as a mini Rhaja, and objects she has pick-pocketed from the queuing audience. Still, they only earn a pittance, and so accept the challenge Houdini issued to any psychic who could tell him his Mother's last words, for a reward of £10,000.0.
Houdini was a great showman and publicist, beginning as an illusionist, and progressing to escapology after studying lock mechanisms. He would hold his breath chained under the sea, or in a tank of water, and claimed to have muscles of steel which could withstand any punch. This last activity is the one leading to his death in reality, when a blow ruptured his appendix, and after a weeks illness in Montreal he died on Halloween, October 31st 1926. Guy pearce worked out, and practised holding his breath for authenticity.
In the film, Mary bears a close resemblence to his mother, and a brief love affair develops after her audition for the challenge, but by a surprising turn of events, it is Benji who is the channel for the psychic phenomena.
Susannah Buxton designed the lovely 20's costumes, with 'Film Noir-esque' production design by Gemma Jackson, and haunting music by Cezary Skubiszewsky.
The action throughout is underpinned by the presence of Timothy Spall, as Houdini's manager, Mr Sugarman.