The Illusionist is, sadly, the kind of movie that will, in all likelihood, be spoiled for you if you don't go see it soon.
With this in mind, there will be two reviews. One in plain sight, one that you'll have to highlight to read.
Here's the first:
Awesome movie, just awesome. This is one of those movies that you will have to be prepared to suspend your disbelief if you're going to enjoy it. Go in with an open mind and you'll love it.
Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is an illusionist, plying his trade in early 20th century Vienna (that's Austria, not Virginia). His show brings him into conflict with Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) and reunites him with his childhood love, Duchess Sophie (Jessice Biel). What follows is a twisting tale of illusion, romance, and revenge.
Okay, now for the second one.
This movie has a twist. A BIG twist. The reason why I consider this information to be a spoiler is because foreknowledge tends to lead to far too much scrutiny. The only reason I was able to figure out Unbreakable and Sixth Sense was because everyone made such a big deal about them and I was watching for the twist from the opening credits. The clues, in this movie, are there, but you're not supposed to put them together until the very end.
Too many reviewers are scoffing about how they figured it out early. Personally, I think that's crap, but if they want to believe that, it's their bag.
The twist is elegant. Clues exist, especially with hindsight. We never see Leopold strike Sophie with his sword. We see Eisenheim conversing with the man who later identifies himself as Sophie's family doctor. We see this man prevent the police from performing an examination of her body. The "spirit" kids that Eisenheim "raises" in the theater are the kids he did tricks for earlier in the movie. They even show you how the trick is done, albeit in a very crude fashion. And then, of course, Eisenheim promises Sophie that he will make them both disappear. There are many more clues, but many are subtle, most are too subtle to spot without knowing the ending.
The scene at the end where Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) finally puts it all together is one of the most breathtaking pieces of cinematography I've seen in a long time.
No, I did not see this one coming.
Doombreed rating: * * * * *