24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Great fantasy; Gilliam's best film in years,
This review is from: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [DVD] (DVD)
Coming to see this with low expectations - while I admire his inventiveness, I have never been much of a Terry Gilliam fan myself, and the word from the critics was not that good - I was very pleasantly surprised with this film. This entertaining and very imaginative fantasy starts with a traveling sideshow driving in a horse-drawn wagon through the seedier parts of a contemporary (if not very realistic) London. Heading the show is a very old wizard/psychic named Dr. Parnassus (veteran Christopher Plummer in a great performance) who promises the few members of the audience interested in them that if they cross a magic mirror, they will travel to a parallel world where their deepest fantasies rule (the "imaginarium" of the title), and where they will have to make a fateful choice about whether they want to follow good or evil. The show has little success (their forays into the magic portal tends to end badly for the audience), but in time the somewhat pathetic troupe (who also includes the beautiful teenage daughter of the wizard, a midget who is the sidekick of Dr. Parnassus, and a young assistant who is madly in love with the daughter) will see a change of fortune when they find and rescue a man hanging in a London bridge (Heath Ledger in his final performance before his untimely death). The man joins the troupe and claims to be an amnesiac, but eventually it will be found that he is a crook running from Russian gangsters from whom he took money. With time, we will also learn more of the back story of Dr. Parnassus: he was a monk who made a deal with the devil (impersonated wittily by Tom Waits) centuries ago: he gets to be immortal, but in exchange, he was to give her daughter to the devil when she turns 16. So you get the idea of the sort of convoluted plot here, but let me assure you that when you see it, you will find it very entertaining and less confusing than it sounds. An intelligent and unusual film, full of intriguing ideas, and helped by the fine performances, including that of Ledger: he died before shooting ended, so in his forays into the imaginary portal he is replaced by three different actors: Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.
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Initial post: 24 Apr 2010 18:51:10 BDT
Olly Buxton says:
What did you find unrealistic about London? As a Londoner, it looked pretty much like the real thing to me. That's, I think, because it *was*. Down to the Homebase Carparks etc.
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