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Illusionist, The


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

Director: Neil Burger

One of those films shot mainly in shades of brown, this is an intriguing, if vaguely familiar-seeming period drama, centring on a carpenter's son (Norton), who develops amazing powers as an illusionist, including making an orange tree apparently grow from a pip in just a few seconds.

But trouble looms for The Great Eisenheim (as he is now known), when his latest volunteer on stage in turn-of-the-century Vienna proves to be Sophie (Biel), a duchess who was once his childhood sweetheart, and is now the latest girlfriend of the Austrian crown prince (Sewell).

Romantic embers are soon rekindled, and an enraged prince orders the local police inspector (Giamatti) to close Eisenheim down. The illusionist revives his act in a run-down theatre he buys himself, but things soon take a sinister turn when it appears that he's evoking the spirits of the dead.

To say more would be to spoil the -er - illusion, but adequate performances - with Norton suitably mysterious - and an interesting theme should keep you watching this one.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by De Luxe.
109 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 24 Feb 2007