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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Illusionist [DVD]
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2007
'Vienna, 1900:Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is a brilliant stage magician, the greatest illusionist Vienna has ever seen. When his childhood friendship with Duchess Sophie Von Teschen (Jessica Biel), now betrothed to the power-hungry Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), is rekindled he finds himself a target for the Prince's anger. As the clandestine romance continues, Leopold orders the shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), the head of the secret police, to close down the theatre and make Eisenheim vanish. But as the net tightens around him and tragedy strikes, Eisenheim prepares to execute his greatest illusion yet'

I Love it! The basic story is of Love...new love, love lost and love found. This aspect was depicted beautifully by Edward Norton and Jessica Biel. However this is not your typical romantic film. I thought the use of 'magic', Eisenheim's young interest and quest for magic tricks/Illusions was great; culminating in his years of searching, practising and refining his magicians skills, until he completes the plea Sophie asked of him when they were young.
Breathtaking scenery, lovely plot, believable acting and a dose of illusionary magic...what more could you want!?!
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
'The Illusionist' is based in early 1900's Vienna and begins when a carpenter's son falls in love with a girl who is in a higher class to him. The two are then seperated and he then turns to the mysterious world of magic. Many years later, the boy, now a famous magician named Eisenheim, performs in theatres to the masses. When the Crown Prince hears of his talents, he wishes to see it for himself and during one of his tricks, Eisenheim is reunited with is love, but she is already engaged to the Crown Prince. He must then use his magical abilities to get her back once and for all.

This film has it all - suspense, romance, mystery, action and best of all, magic! With some fantastic performances from the lead cast - Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell, and some amazing set pieces and special effects that had me totally engrossed in the movie from start to finish. Although this wasn't advertised as much as The Prestige (one of my favourite movies) I feel that this should have been equally praised by the critics as it is easily as brilliant as it and then some. The story kept me guessing the whole way through and had a really unexpected twist at the end.

This is without a doubt one of the best films that I've seen recently and one that I'll definitely be recommending to others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2011
This film seems to be one of those great rare finds as it is an intelligent film with a great story line, great cast and the element of keeping you guessing right to the end (and maybe even discussing afterwards!). We watch this film about every couple of months as it is one of the only films both my husband and I agree on and we still enjoy watching it every time.

Eisenheim and Sophie are both played well and you do have sympathy for Eisenheim as the story develops, he is a mysterious character. As a character you really begin to dislike the crown prince, but you really have to appreciate how well the part is played especially when you have seen the plot twists at the end of the film. My favourite character is actually the chief of police who is played perfectly.

We love the illusions and revealing to much about them could spoil the film so I will say no more about them, but you must pay attention! (I do have friends who say that they have not enjoyed this film, but I suspect that this is because a) they are not the brightest buttons in the box and b) they weren't paying attention).

All in all the film is a serious love story with some well placed humour, great for relaxing with a glass of wine.... (and now i've written the review I am going to have to watch it again myself tonight!)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2008
This is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. The storyline is well-thoughtout and clever. It's packed with suspense and remains so until the final, closing moments of the film. Both Norton and Biel put in fantastic perfomances.
The Illusionist is neither too long nor too short, and it's one of those rare films I would like to watch again and again...
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 August 2007
For a Hollywood movie this has a distinctly European feel to it, no doubt partly because it is set in Vienna, but also because of some of the technical aspects.I won't say much about the plot, which despite seeming complicated is really very simple; poor boy and rich girl meet and fall in love, part, and then meet again as adults and try against all the odds to reconcile.

However, the script, direction and acting raise this far above the normal boy meets girl. Certainly this is Norton's best role since American History X and Paul Giamatti is a revelation, absolutely brilliant in the subtleties he brings to his role. Rufus Sewell too stands out and this is without doubt the best work I have seen him do, which is to say I've never really noticed him before.

The mystery keeps you glued to your seat but it's the acting that commands your attention so that by the time you reach the denoument you won't be surprised but you will be completely satisfied.A very good grown up film that isn't afraid to show its influences and though it requires your attention it repays it handsomely.Recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Illusionist is a unique mystery-adventure-thriller set in 1900 Vienna. To say what it is about is to give the plot away, but it turns on the love of Eisenheim the Illusionist for the duchess Sofie, and the game of cat and mouse he plays with the crown prince and the chief of police to win her. Beautifully shot with a slightly coppery light throughout, it is a marvellously evocative film. However, the master stroke is in keeping the viewer guessing as to what kind of film it really is, right until the final minutes. Is it a supernatural thriller? Or turns the plot turn on something far more down to earth.

Once you've seen the film, you will almost certainly want to watch it again almost immediately. Seeing it a second time reveals many clues hidden the first time. Unusually, though, for a film with a surprise ending, The Illusionist is even more enjoyable on subsequent viewings than the first.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I was determined not to like this movie! After all, I merely bought it on sale as a second used DVD so that I could get two for the price of one. However, "The Illusionist" turned out to be far better than the well-touted movie that I bought in the first place. Furthermore, after the first few minutes, I found myself becoming totally absorbed in the suspenseful story, which is well acted (Perhaps Edward Norton's openhanded gesture as the brooding illusionist Eisenstein cast a hypnotic spell over me!). I especially liked Paul Giamatti as the cynical Inspector Uhl. The costumes are splendid (except for the ugly jodhpurs that Jessica Biel wears in the otherwise romantic last scene). In the rest of the movie, she is lovely, as are the "Viennese" settings of Prague. I was so engaged by Eisenstein's magic-lantern illusions (aided by Philip Glass's moody musical score) that I suspended my disbelief (especially my sharply-honed sense of historical disbelief!) and was both surprised and delighted by the ending. My only real complaint has to do with the over-saturation of the colors in the cinematography. As the director explains in the commentary (which demonstrates that magic explained is no longer magic), the color was processed in such a way to give the film an antique look, but the fact that I was constantly aware of this particular special effect indicates that it might have been overdone. This quibble, however, is a minor one in a film which I enjoyed immensely, simply by accepting it at face value.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2010
This film spins a woven net of compusive golden enchantment around you (like all good fairy tales). The cross weave of magic and illusion, with romance and the massive social imbalance of the time, holds you rapt to the end. And then you immediately need to watch it again, to see what you missed, and how you can correctly assemble every aspect of the puzzle.... The cast, especially Edward Norton are glorious in this, and then there is of course Vienna. I accidentally stumbled upon this a year or so after its release. How did I miss it? Will watch it many many times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This film is good, but his quality doesn't reside in the plot that isn't nor original nor surprising.
We see: it's a story yet seen thousand of times: a poor man, in this case a magician nicknamed Eisenheim, illusionist or what you want to believe, and a princess falls in love when teenagers. A love strictly forbidden as in Romeo & Juliet for example. That happens in the confuse last days of the complex decadent Austro- Hungarian empire and his monarchy plenty of degenerate persons.
But the merit of this movie rest in the well chosen protagonist Edward Norton who plays very well his role (the other actors truly make a routine work), and a series of special effects but by nothing comparable in amount to earthquakes, explosions, etc, so usual in today cinema. But qualitatively, these are good special effects very well selected.
All that really very simple. It's said Eisenheim has learned his arts when he was child, from an old magician who immediately vanished, and later, travelling during 15 years by the mysterious Far East, etc. Another two well known topics.
But the excellent photography enhances this unusual film when, I think much more strange and unbelievable than the magics, are the fact that a police chief defies the authority of a criminal prince. That is, yes, truly extraordinary, and still more at these times and that country, and no magician, white or black in this world, I think is capable to achieve so difficult exploit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2008
With a little less whiz-bang than its cinematic partner, The Prestige,The Illusionist is a sutle but powerful piece of drama, even if the big twist isn't that big. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy this film and have seen it many times. The score by Glass is perfect for the vibe the film is going for, the acting is top notch and the sets/design is wonderful. It requires some attention and in situations like say, entertaining friends, the prestige is a more suitable choice. However, for any other situations where ywoou can settle down for a deep film, this is highly recommended.
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