Handyfilm etc

Film reviews and other thoughts

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Illusionist

The Illusionist looks great, and it has a very good cast. But the skillful direction is unable to sustain the thin plotting. Based on a short story, it has the trappings of a fairy tale, but not nearly enough magic to sustain two hours. The intensity of both the story and the emotions dissipate by being overstretched.

Movies adapted from novels often seem overstuffed with plot and characters, and can give you the nagging feeling that much has been omitted, as of course it has been. The Illusionist has the opposite problem. I don’t know the story on which it is based, but the movie gives the impression of not having enough to say, and taking too long to say it.

Nonetheless, Edward Norton is excellent as always in the title role, mesmerizingly intense. And Paul Giamatti gets to demonstrate that he is just as good in a stylized costume role in a European setting as he is playing contemporary American neurotics. The two of them, along with the satisfyingly lush camerawork and production design, keep the movie alive longer than the story alone would.

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