In 1900 Vienna, a magician named Eisenheim the Illusionist is mystifying audiences with a remarkable magic act that is seemingly too good to believe. Chief Inspector Uhl, who is in the pocket of Crown Prince Leopold--and considers himself somewhat of an amateur conjurer--becomes obsessed with Eisenheim; Uhl is not only desperate to find out the secrets behind Eisenheim's tricks but also worried that the master magician might pose a threat to the crown prince's nefarious plans. In addition, Eisenheim is quickly growing close to Duchess Sophie von Teschen, his childhood love, who is engaged to Leopold. As Eisenheim's act becomes even more amazing--including apparently raising the spirits of the dead--he enrages the crown prince even further, leading to deception and murder. Edward Norton (FIGHT CLUB), who studied magic with Ricky Jay (THE SPANISH PRISONER) in preparing for the role, is terrific as Eisenheim, an enigmatic showman hiding a dark side. The excellent supporting cast features fine performances by Rufus Sewell (A KNIGHT'S TALE) as the evil, conniving Leopold; Jessica Biel (7TH HEAVEN) as the beautiful Sophie; and Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS) as the perceptive but bumbling Uhl. Written and directed by Neil Burger (INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN), THE ILLUSIONIST, which is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prizewinner Steven Millhauser, is a complex tale filled with mystery and awe. The compelling score was composed by minimalist musician Philip Glass and conducted by Michael Reisman.
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3 stars out of 5 -- "Edward Norton is at his best here, chalking up another boundary-stretching performance..."Rolling Stone - Peter Travers (08/24/2006)"[R]igorously styled….Every one of Norton's postures feels chosen. Yet the interesting actor has chosen so thoughtfully that we're riveted." -- Grade: B+Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum (08/18/2006)"Entertaining....A pungent period folk tale that teases until the very end."New York Times - Stephen Holden (08/15/2006)4 stars out of 5 -- "[W]onderfully staged, with Norton on fine form as the weirdly charismatic Eisenheim and Giamatti as the perfect foil."Uncut - Damon Wise (03/01/2007)3 stars out of 5 -- "Edward Norton brings pensive intensity to the role..."Total Film - Jamie Russell (04/01/2007)3 stars out of 5 -- "[B]eautifully shot, engrossing and well-acted....It's a solid, enjoyable film..."Ultimate DVD - Natalie Braine (03/01/2007)"[W]hat THE ILLUSIONIST does well is create a compelling atmosphere, abetted by Dick Pope's nicely judged cinematography..."Sight and Sound - Lisa Mullen (04/01/2007)4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] astounding stunts and seductive cinematography....Norton is so hypnotic he could steal your wallet."Uncut - Adam Sweeting (08/01/2007)
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