Nothing is what it seems in THE ILLUSIONIST, an intriguing, smart and enjoyable film set in nineteenth century Vienna.
Edward Norton is terrific as illusionist Eisenheim, a master showman that commands the stage with seemingly impossible, quiet acts of magic that astonish his audience.
When Eisenheim has a beautiful Duchess join him on stage to participate in a magic act, he is overwhemled to realize that the beautiful woman is the same girl that he fell in love with 15 years before as a teenager.
Social circles and fate separated them at that time, but their reunion causes ripples across the city. Jessica Beil is Sophie the duchess and the always great Paul Giamatti is Inspector Uhl.
Uhl's personal fascination with magic and the mechanics behind illusion flavor his investigation of Eisenheim.
Uhl reports directly to the Crown Prince Leopold, who is possessive of Sophie, his duchess.
As all these relationships begin to merge, Eisenheim escalates his illusions in bigger and bigger theatres in Vienna, his power growing as he seems to harness the afterlife and access to many secrets the Crown Prince prefer stay dead.
This is a great cast and a great movie.
You will not know where it's going until its satisfying conclusion. Credit strong writing and direction from Neil Burger, who has since given us "Limitless" and "Divergent".
Great moody score by Philip Glass.
The Illusionist truly conjures up some strong movie magic and gets a mystery laden A.