This elegant production takes us on a journey to Vienna in the early 1900s where we meet a traveling stage magician, Eisenheim the Illusionist, who has fallen in love with Sophie, the beautiful young fiancee' of Prince Leopold. The two are star-crossed lovers who had fallen in love as teenagers, only to be separated by the vagrancies of class and poverty. As the consort of Leopold, who is next in line to the throne of his aging father, Sophie is risking her life in more ways than one by continuing her relationship with Eisenheim. As the intrigue swirls in this intricate story, Eisenheim is warned off by the local police sycophant, Chief Inspector Uhl, who is mesmerized by Eisenheim's performances and seems to genuinely like him, but who doesn't dare upset his political position by defying the Prince.
The performances of Edward Norton as Eisenheim and Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl make this movie deliciously entertaining. The adaptation of Steven Millhauser's short story, with all of the twists and turns, is well-crafted and grips you to the very end. You might guess the ending, but you very well might not. You can never trust a magician except when he tells you "Nothing you see is real."
Rainbo Electronic Reviews published this review in our March, 2007 issue.
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