This trick and that trick

The Illusionist is a film in the genus of The Prestige and Scoop — a thrill­er set in the world of stage magic. Quite why these films are like buses at the moment, I don’t know, but a brief trip to the cinema was called for last night, and off we when to see The Illusionist.

Based on a short story (always a good start), the film is set in fin de siecle Vienna and con­cerns our hero, a tal­en­ted magi­cian called Eisenheim, as he returns to the city of his youth in the hope of woo­ing his once-sweet­heart, Countess Sophie von Teschen from the dast­ardly Crown Prince Leopold.

This is one of those films that, ulti­mately, did not work for me, but bursts with enough sin­cer­ity and tal­ent to make the movie-going exper­i­ence a reward­ing one. Eisenheim is bril­liantly played by Edward Norton. His opponent’s factor, the Chief Inspector, is giv­en life by a won­der­ful per­form­ance from Paul Giamitti. But both these are blown off the screen by Rufus Sewell’s Crown Prince Leopold — he chews the decor, spits it out, and stamps on the pieces. He even man­ages to ‘twist his mous­tache in vil­lainy’. Wonderfully filmed too, by Dick Pope, and Philip Glass sup­plies the usu­al ‘skip­ping needle’ score.

Anyway, just a quick review to share this with you. If you get a chance to see it, you might like it. Not a lot. But you might like it.

EDIT: My girl­friend has got ter­ribly con­fused by that last link. Just to be clear — and ruin the mys­tery — ‘not a lot’ is the catch­phrase of Paul Daniels, Britain’s answer to David Copperfield. He was a reg­u­lar fix­ture on Saturday night telly in the 1980s, and I remem­ber get­ting the Paul Daniels magic box for Christmas in 1989 or so. On a related note, can any­one explain to me the point of that bit of rope where one end was stiff? Tim, I’m look­ing at you.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *