The Illusionist (2006)



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

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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.
PG-13 (for some sexuality and violence)
Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Box Office:


Edward Norton
as Eisenheim
Paul Giamatti
as Chief Inspector Uhl
Jessica Biel
as Sophie
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 (187) | Top Critics (45)

The line between truth and illusion is blurred so persuasively that for a moment or two, you may even believe that a romantic costume drama could stand up to all those special-effects blockbusters in the dog days of summer.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Top Critic

With exquisite performances (Giamatti's, in particular), it leaves you thrillingly hovering, happily uncommitted to any one interpretation.

Full Review… | February 27, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

You may be temporarily beguiled, but not fooled.

Full Review… | February 2, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

What (director Neil) Burger and his colleagues have done is to entrance us with a richly acted, beautifully produced story.

October 26, 2006
The New Republic
Top Critic

Conjures up a world of mystery, romance and suspense.

September 1, 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The story may be less than credible, but the performances are mostly good, and Giamatti makes an especially strong showing.

September 1, 2006
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Illusionist


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Similar, but ultimately different from The Prestige, this is a moody and gorgeous romantic drama with magical overtones. Set near the end of the 19th Century in Vienna, this is a fictional tale based on a short story that inserts itself into some fictionalized retellings of actual events. Eisenheim is an illusionist who specializes in some acts that border on the supernatural. He captures the imagination, then ire of Crown Prince Leopold when he makes a move on Leopold's lady, the Duchess Sophie von Teschen- a woman whom Eisenheim tried to romance when they were younger, but was foiled due to her being of a far higher social standing. Eisenheim's renewed efforts also attract the attention of Leopold's chief inspector Uhl, but due to events I won't discuss here due to spoilers, he finds his loyalties shifting the more he investigates Eisenheim and his doings. Shot with a unique filter, this comes off like a relic from the past. It feels like an old-timey picture, and I friggin' loved that. It gives the film some unique sensibilities, and shows a great level of care and attention to detail. Yes, the film inserts fiction into actual events, but I didn't have much of a problem with it, and thought it worked quite nicely. Besides a great look, the film has excellent costumes and period details, and the score by Philip Glass is haunting and beautiful. The film is about magic, but it's more or less a classic story of star crossed lovers that uses magic as a plot device. I was fine with this. Yes, there are some typical trappings of films with this subject matter, but I never felt cheated, or lost. Edward Norton is great as Eisenheim, Paul Giamatti is fun as the obsessively determined Uhl, and Rufus Sewell is strong as Leopold. He kinda reminded me of Jude Law, too, which is cool. The only real weak link here is Jessica Biel as Sophie. Yes she's gorgeous, but while she's not totally awful, she seemed like she was acting in a school play, and it all felt kinda flat and lifeless. Her aside, this is a quite engaging and captivating film. Give it a look.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

what if they made a twilight zone episode as long as a movie, and then didn't tell you that that's what it was...then you would have this movie: mysterious, romantic, childlike and wondrous. a not-too-chick-flick chick flick. cloaked in the velvet musical tapestry of Philip Glass, and the excellent performances of all involved.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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