Scott and I wanted to show his sister, Lacey, one of Portland's pub/theaters. We took her to The Illusionist at McMenamins' St Johns Theater & Pub on Friday. The 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition building matched the film's turn of the last century setting.
For some reason, there are two turn-of-the-century magician movies out this year with promising big name stars. The other movie, The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Cain, I have not seen, but I understand that it is about competing magicians. The Illusionist stars Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and is a love story about a poor boy who returns to his home town as a traveling magician and reunites with his higher-class first love. The movie was filmed in the style of an early motion picture with a dim and flickering image, bland cinematography and an obvious plot. I hate trying to guess how a film will end, but this film's storyline was so basic and obvious that I could not help but know how the film was going to end. The movie is 1 hour 50 minutes long, but felt like it dragged on for three hours.
Edward Norton came close to making his magician character, Eisenheim, interesting, but his performance confuses being mysterious with being aloof. In the end, I didn't really care about Eisenheim or his love interest. Giamatti's Chief Inspector character helped salvage the film and steals the climax of the film.
Overall, I would have rather spent my evening watching a different film. Illusion is not a very interesting or mysterious subject since we all know the filmmakers cheated through the use of visual effects. Had the filmmakers made some sort of commitment to viewers to use only believable, turn-of-the-century illusionist tricks, I think the film would have been a little more interesting and compelling.