During the 19th century, Edward Norton is an illusionist, Paul Giamatti is the Chief Inspector trying to prove he’s a fraud, and Jessica Biel is the former childhood friend that falls for him, much to the Crown Prince Leopold’s chagrin.
I loved the way this movie was filmed. When talking about the illusionist’s childhood, it has the darken edges of old photographs, even with scratches showing up in places. The entire movie had the old-fashion photographic look, which worked well for it.
Beyond the look of it, the storyline was pretty basic. A poor boy that learns magic falls for a rich girl, but they are torn apart since it would be unthinkable for kids from different classes to associate with one another. He runs off, changes his name and becomes a famous illusionist. They run into one another during one of his performances and the sparks fly. Too bad she’s engaged to a Prince who has the bad habit of beating his women. It is never really shown why she is with him, so it isn’t even believable she is there. The prince is a cartoon character. He’s bad guy who can’t take a joke if his girl doesn’t like him or if an illusionist doesn’t share his magic tricks with him. He wants to feel smarter than everyone, so he gets the corrupt police inspector to arrest him for no good reason.
The entire storyline of Paul Giamatti’s police inspector chasing Norton’s illusionist is silly. It didn’t hold my interest, which probably accounts for how I kept falling asleep while watching his movie. One thing that did amaze me was Jessica Biel was not annoying. I was expecting her accent to be unbelievable and for her to just be eye candy. Well, she was pretty much eye candy, but her accent worked and she had real chemistry with Edward Norton. I wish the movie would have concentrated on the two of them more since that was more interesting than the rest of the movie, but they really only had one brief sexy scene and then back to the other silliness.
The ending was very predictable and I couldn’t believe that the police guy had the look of “Oh, now I get it” when he finally figured out what really happened. Doofus.