The Illusionist (Edward Norton, Jessica biel, Paul Giamatti)
Director Neil Burger's screen adaptation of Steven Millhauser's short story 'Eisenheim the Illusionist'. Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is a magician in early 1900's Vienna, who falls in love with a woman well above his social standing. When she becomes engaged to a Crown Prince, Eisenheim uses his powers to free her and undermine the stability of the royal house of Vienna.
My sister rented this movie this evening and...well, when it came out I kinda wanted to watch it at the theater -- good thing I didn't though.
It wasn't a slow-paced movie. Sure it was filled with a lot of chit-chattering, but the way it was presented, it kept the audience entertained just like Eisenheim's (Edward Norton) audience were drawn to his magic shows.
This movie is your typical Romeo & Juliet-esque type of lovestory.
Eisenheim (Norton) was a talented young man born to a poor family in Austria. Sophie (Jessica Biel) was born on the lap of luxury and even holds the title of Duchess. Throw in the villain in the form of Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell -- a very talented character actor, I have to admit) and the Mercucio of this play in the form of Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) and you got yourself a receipe for one helluvan entertaining movie.
I don't want to spoil much of what the plot's about, but let's just say that the twist in the end was nicely wrapped up. My Mom was confused when she saw the ending and I had to explain to her how it was possible, but overall it wasn't a bad movie rental for a Friday night.
What irked me, though, was Jessica Biel's acting. She's a pretty gal, and after years of playing Mary Camden in 7th Heaven, you'd think she's honed her acting chops considering the long-running family drama series has been around for like FOREVER now (CW picked it up this season after it was supposedly killed off already when the WB Network said bye-bye this past spring). And her acting was something to be...well, let's just say that accents aren't her forte. Norton's accent, however, was flawless IMO. But given the period setting of this movie, it was kinda hard for me to pick up on certain words the characters were saying back and forth.
Now the one performance that stood out (aside from Sewell's portrayal of Crowned Prince Leopold) was Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl. His accent was...holy crap! I was trying to figure out if it was indeed his voice he used 'coz he sounded like a natural with the accent he acquired for his character.
Overall I say give this movie a shot. The movie was told in a story-telling style leading up to the ending. You'll be confused first, but soon you'll figured out what's going on. It wouldn't take you the entire film to find out what's happening or why this scene was switched to this scene or whatnot.