Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Illusionist


This is one of those movies where even a spoiler warning wouldn’t do much good, because I wouldn’t want to be discussing the ending, but the marvelous set-up, and by doing that I’d be clueing you in to more than I want to. About all I can say about the plot is that the title of the film gives you a warning, and that it then proceeds to bamboozle you with that most useful of the magician’s tools: misdirection. You think you’re seeing one thing because that’s what the magician wants you to see, but … and that’s almost too much right there. The film is beautifully staged, and I must mention the music by Philip Glass, my favorite avant-garde composer (actually maybe the only such that I actually like), which adds a lot to every scene. The only weak part of the movie is Edward Norton, who is one of the best actors working today but who is wrong for this part. Someone with a bit more passion would have helped sustain interest during the long buildup to the final payoff, which is superb.