Ryan Chartrand

As children, we all believe that miracles can happen and that a simple man can pull a rabbit out of a hat. When we grow up, we begin to doubt all of it, except when it is stirred up in us once again. “The Illusionist” is the sort of movie that brings back the desire to believe in our childhood fantasies.

Not only does the movie give the audience hope in magic, it takes the whole theater to a different world that we have only heard about in history books.

Set in Vienna at the turn of the century, the costumes, characters and cinematography literally bring every person into the era with them.

Edward Norton plays Eisenheim the Illusionist, a magician who only wants to solve the one mystery he can’t – love. Norton gives the character so much life that by the time the movie is over, you are convinced he should be walking out of the theater next to you.

Unlike Norton, Jessica Biel has not stunned us in her past movies like “Stealth” and “Blade: Trinity.” However, her performance in “The Illusionist” as Sophie was beyond expectation. Stuck in a relationship she does not want to be in and in love with a person from her past, Biel makes us sympathize with the character. Though we in no way can try to understand high-class tradition in that time, Sophie’s underlying dilemma is very familiar to us.

The other cast members played their parts just as well. Paul Giamatti separates from his self-loathing character in “Sideways” and gives us the performance we have been waiting for. He plays the chief inspector that has a loyalty to the king, but can’t seem to leave his humble roots behind. Throughout the film you can see his frustration with wanting to do what is expected of him and what he knows is right. Giamatti gives the character substance unlike anyone before.

When it comes to villains, viewers want confused, dark and hopeful characters instead of inherently demoralizing and evil ones. Rufus Sewell plays the former perfectly in “The Illusionist” as the crowned prince. Though he is seriously corrupt and wants to rule the country more than anything, he has a heart for Sophie – or so we think. His final speech at the end brings the audience to realize that in his mind, he was being compassionate, which completely changes our view of him.

Director and writer Neil Burger adapted a short story by Steven Millhauser into “The Illusionist.” Eisenheim falls in love with Sophie who is in a higher class than he is and must deal with the consequences that go along with this. However, the chief inspector and the crowned prince are trying to shut his show down at the same time.

While this movie is seriously unrealistic, it is highly entertaining. The cinematography is phenomenal. The use of close ups and panning add to the mystery of the story. Soft lighting and airy music bring the audience into the legend and drag them all the way to the end.

Not only is the cinematography great, but the setting is fantastic as well. The buildings look exactly as you would imagine for the era. The prestigious ones have a sense of grandeur about them while the smaller ones just show an impoverished effort. The distance between the wealthy and the poor is obvious.

All in all, the movie is worthy of your $8 to $9. The twist at the end is enough to go see the movie at all and the acting is outstanding.

So, with your Poly Card in hand, go get your student ticket and prepare to go back in time to Vienna and make a couple new friends called Sophie and Eisenheim.

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