THE ILLUSIONIST

Seeing Things

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: August 18, 2006

Starring: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel,
Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell,
and Eddie Marsan

Genre: Drama/Period Film

Audience: Older teenagers and adults

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 109 minutes

Distributor: Yari Film Group Releasing

Director: Neil Burger

Executive Producer: Jane Garnett, Joey Horvitz,
Ted Liebowitz, and Tom Nunan

Producer: Brian Koppelman, David Levien,
Michael London, Cathy
Schulman, and Bob Yari

Writer: Neil Burger

Address Comments To:

Bob Yari, Chairman
Yari Film Group
10850 Wilshire Blvd., South
Sixth Floor
Beverly Hills, CA 90024
Phone: (310) 689-1450
Fax: (310) 234-8975

Content:

(Ro, B, O, V, SS, N, AA, M) Light Romantic worldview with mild moral elements including compassion for the less fortunate and protection of the weak from oppression as well as occult elements including talk of black magic and depiction of magician performing what some characters believe to be a result of magic rather than illusion; no foul language; brief violence depicting a boy being pushed by adult men as well as a scene in which a man slaps a woman and a few scenes of implied violence with blood and an implied suicide; briefly depicted fornication; no sexual nudity but images of woman’s back and upper male nudity; brief alcoholism depicting a man drunk on strong liquor; no smoking; and, deception and misrepresentation.


Summary:

Edward Norton and Jessica Biel star in THE ILLUSIONIST, a drama set in turn-of-the-century Vienna about a magician and his unrequited passion for the fiancée of a Crown Prince. Although finely acted and well-executed, THE ILLUSIONIST is tainted by a light Romantic worldview, brief sexual content and references to black magic.


Review:

Edward Norton and Jessica Biel star in THE ILLUSIONIST, a well-crafted drama set in turn-of-the-century Vienna. The movie is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser.
After his ill-fated childhood romance with upper-class Sophie goes awry, Edward (played by Edward Norton) leaves Austria to explore the world. When he returns to Vienna 15 years later, he is no longer the gawky adolescent, but is now a talented and well-regarded illusionist known as Eisenheim. His hopes of a reunion with Sophie (played by Jessica Biel) take a blow when he discovers she is engaged to temperamental Crown Prince Leopold (played by Rufus Sewell). Their paths cross soon enough, however. Leopold becomes jealous of the suave magician’s still-burning connection with his fiancée, so he orders Chief Inspector Uhl (played by Paul Giamatti) to keep close tabs on the entertainer. As Eisenheim continues to pursue the beautiful duchess, the volatile situation threatens to spin out of control.
Director-screenwriter Neil Berger’s cinematic adaptation of Millhauser’s story (originally titled “Eisenheim the Illusionist”) is both entertaining and compelling. Astute viewers may detect some holes in the plot, but will likely overlook these shortcomings due to the movie’s other shining qualities. Phillip Glass’s haunting soundtrack sets the mood from the opening credits. Norton handles the role of Eisenheim with a convincing fluidity, Biel is apt in her not-too-challenging role, and Giamatti pulls off an exceptional performance.
Whether or not the protagonist’s tricks are skillful illusions or acts of magic is a point often debated by characters in the movie, and the story continually forces the audience to deal with these questions as well. Such ambiguity adds to the plot’s mystique, but may also frustrate sensitive viewers. For example, some Christian audience members may be uncomfortable with the movie’s references to “black magic” and the “dark arts,” as well as the movie’s brief scene of fornication. Therefore, extreme caution is advised for adults.


In Brief:

Edward Norton and Jessica Biel star in THE ILLUSIONIST, a drama about a magician set in turn-of-the-century Vienna. After his ill-fated childhood romance with upper-class Sophie goes awry, Edward leaves Austria to explore the world. When he returns to Vienna 15 years later, he is no longer an adolescent, but a talented illusionist known as Eisenheim. His hopes of a reunion with Sophie take a blow when he discovers she is engaged to temperamental Crown Prince Leopold. Their paths cross soon enough, however. Leopold becomes jealous of the magician’s still-burning connection with Sophie. As Eisenheim continues to pursue the beautiful duchess, the volatile situation threatens to spin out of control.
THE ILLUSIONIST is compelling and well-acted, which compensate for a few holes in the plot. Whether or not the protagonist’s tricks are skillful illusions or acts of magic is often debated by characters in the movie, and the audience must deal with the same questions. Such ambiguity adds to the plot’s mystique, but may frustrate viewers. Some may be offended with the movie’s references to “black magic,” as well as the movie’s scene of fornication. Therefore, extreme caution is advised for adults.