The Illusionist

A supernatural mystery combining romance, politics and magic starring Edward Norton as Eisenheim the mysterious stage magician and Paul Giamatti as Vienna's shrewd Chief Inspector Uhl. In a world where nothing is as it appears, an illusionist and a police inspector face off in a challenge of wills that attempts to determine where reality ends and magic begins... all the while blurring the line between power and corruption, love and devotion, vigilance and mania and ultimately, life and death. Jessica Biel played the beautiful love interest Sophie Von Teschen and Rufus Sewell does a superb job of showing Prince Leopold as the twisted beast he was.

The love story, the twist, and, of course, the ILLUSIONS!, made for an infectious mix of romance, mystery, and magic. Sumptuous, mysterious, and deeply felt, with superb acting for the most part by all of its leads. A magician using his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing made for a beautiful story. Their love transcended the many years and their social classes; I loved the locket he made for her as a sign of his devotion when they were children. This twist at the end was, for me at least, unexpected although once you know what it is, you can recall the signs throughout the movie but I thought it was well done.
One thing I wanted to touch on was the love scene between Norton and Biel. I loved it. It was so suggestive and evocative without crossing any barriers or ruining the illusion of their love & passion. It's about time the movie makers realized that what doesn't show is much more erotic than the kind of trashy low grade porn that passes for sex in most movies. That long slow shot that turns out to be their arms and hands took my breath away. Anyone ever noticed how beautiful Norton's hands are?
Norton, Giamatti and Sewell were all perfectly cast. Edward Norton has done a wonderful job in most of his movies. I first recall seeing him in Death to Smoochie and falling in love with his eyes. :D As for Giamatti, I know I have seen him in other movies but I don't recall any before Lady in the Water. In both he did an excellent job and I'm looking forward to seeing him in other movies. I have added a name to the small list of actors whose names I can actually remember. Carey is the the movie buff and the one to go to when you want actors names, dates, or obscure facts. And I have to give a hand to Sewell and his superb job on Prince Leopold. All three of these gentelmen deserve a standing ovation.

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