The Illusionist


The Illusionist

Critics Consensus

The Illusionist is an engrossing, well-crafted story of mystery, magic and intrigue that is certain to enchant, if not hypnotize, audiences.



Total Count: 191


Audience Score

User Ratings: 417,123
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Movie Info

Set in early 20th-century Vienna, a stage magician uses his magic to win back the great love of his life from a brutal enemy, her fiance, who is also the powerful crowned prince of Austria.

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Edward Norton
as Eisenheim
Paul Giamatti
as Chief Inspector Uhl
Rufus Sewell
as Crown Prince Leopold
Eddie Marsan
as Josef Fischer
Jake Wood
as Jurka
Tom Fisher
as Willigut
Aaron Taylor-Johnson
as Young Eisenheim
Eleanor Tomlinson
as Young Sophie
Karl Johnson
as Doctor/Old Man
Nicholas Blane
as Herr Doebler
Philip McGough
as Dr. Hofzinser
Erich Redman
as Count Rainer
Michael Carter
as Von Thurnburg
Matthew Blood-Smyth
as Man Who Incites Riot
David Forest
as Traveling Magician
Andreas Grothusen
as Eisenheim's Father
Brian Caspe
as Eisenheim's Assistant
Ellen Savaria
as Mrs. Uhl
Eliás Bauer
as Street Urchin Messenger
Vitezslav Bouchner
as Sophie's Driver
David O'Kelly
as Archduke No. 1
Richard Rowlands
as Archduke No. 2
Noel le Bon
as Arrested Man
David Fellowes
as Respectable Man
Eve Kelemenova
as Sobbing Woman
John Early
as Man on Street
Jan Nemejovský
as Senior Officer No. 1
Ivo Novák
as Senior Officer No. 2
Vladimir Kulhavy
as Train Conductor
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Critic Reviews for The Illusionist

All Critics (191) | Top Critics (50)

Audience Reviews for The Illusionist

  • Oct 27, 2014
    Suspenseful and entertaining, The Illusionist is an impressively well-crafted thriller. When Crown Prince Leopold sees an illusionist named Eisenheim as a threat to his authority, he seeks to destroy Eisenheim and rob him of his childhood love. Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, and Rufus Sewell, the casting is especially good, as are their performances. Additionally, writer/director Neil Burger does a brilliant job at weaving an intricate mystery that's full of twists and turns. His directing style is also quite remarkable, using a graininess and color palette that gives the film a surrealist feel. At times the "illusions" seem a bit too clever, but overall they're used rather effectively. An exemplary film, The Illusionist delivers an intriguing and spellbinding tale that will keep audiences guessing until the end.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2013
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 20, 2013
    I am not sure how did I missed this film in the cinemas and later on DVD, but I am glad that my Chinese cable provider got it... I really enjoyed it! This period drama/mystery written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel kept me to the screen the entire 110 minutes. The screenplay is based loosely on Steven Millhauser's short story, "Eisenheim the Illusionist". The film tells the story of Eisenheim, a magician in fin de siècle Vienna, who uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. The film also depicts a fictionalized version of the Mayerling Incident. I am happy to hear that the film was a commercial and critical success - I wish there are more like it. The beginning of the movie takes us to Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1889. The film begins in medias res as Chief Inspector Walter Uhl (Paul Giamatti) of the Vienna Police announces the arrest of Eisenheim (Edward Norton) during what appears to be necromancy passed off as a magic show. Later, he recounts the story of Eisenheim's life for Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). Eisenheim (Aaron Johnson) was born the son of a peasant cabinetmaker in a rural village, and as a teenager, meets a traveling magician who performs several tricks for him. Eisenheim becomes obsessed with magic tricks after this. He also falls in love with Sophie, the Duchess von Teschen (Jessica Biel), a noblewoman well above his social class. Although the two are forbidden to see each other, they meet secretly until at last they are caught and forcefully separated. He comes back after many years and the mystery starts to unveil! I love well made historical movies which are careful about the details - and this one was one of them. Although the film is set in Austria, it was filmed mostly in the Czech Republic. The city of Vienna is represented in the movie by those of Tábor and Prague, while the scenes set in Eisenheim's childhood village were shot in ?eský Krumlov. The Crown Prince's castle is actually the historical fortress of Konopit? (located near Beneov), formerly the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The front gates of Leopold's Vienna palace were actually the front gates of Prague Castle. All other shots were at Barrandov Studios in Prague... everything was a real feast for my eyes! If you like engaging mystery which makes you think, like good acting (Giamatti's performance is smooth, expressive, and rich, and Edward Norton is so cool with Jessica Biel that I hope they will work together again), excellent directing and very intriguing screenplay, please, check this one.
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • May 11, 2012
    Its funny, you don't see any films about magicians then all of a sudden two pop up in the same year, how does that work? We had the same deal with 'Dante's Peak' and 'Volcano' also 'Armageddon' and 'Deep Impact'...weird huh. Anyhow this magic show is period set as is 'The Prestige' only this time we are in Vienna at the turn of the century. The plot is a mixture of a love story, a who dunnit? and magic all entwined within the rich lavish world of Austrian royalty. The film simply popped up out of nowhere and my first impression was a cheap low budget equal to 'The Prestige' which was quite a big hit, I was amazed when it turned out to be such a rewarding film. The cast are all excellent here and fit beautifully into this decadent setting, Norton, Sewell, Giamatti, Biel and Marsan, all brilliant, what more can I say. I probably enjoyed Sewell as 'Prince Leopold' the most with his unhinged delicate state, jealousy and fury in his eyes as he loses the plot. The plot is intriguing but does seem to do a 'Usual Suspects' spin towards the end, your average twist which you can sense was coming but fun to watch none the less. The film is a joy to watch simply down to the lovely work on sets, costumes, location and the magic tricks of which the main ones are assisted with cgi methinks which is a shame but still mysterious. I guess the whole film or story is suppose to be one big magic trick or illusion really, one big puff of hocus pocus as the main lead wins the day and his love in a swirling mist of deception. Visually stunning, realistic? yes, not bad a tall...I can taste the strudel, superbly well performed and very enjoyable but maybe a little simpler than it was meant to be. 
    Phil H Super Reviewer

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