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The Illusionist is, I am afraid I have to say, the worst film I have seen in a couple of months. It consists exclusively of standard formulae from Hollywood narration classes, neglecting that these narrative structure are supposed to be linked by some basic form of credibility, logic, or at least pace or overboarding phantasy that make you forget the former. Of course it is possible to draft a plot in a way that a revelation at the end sheds a completely different light on many of the things you have seen before Sixth Sense and Usual Suspects tell stories about this possibility, so does Jacob’s Ladder). Of course you can trust the omnipotence of a great illusionist and his ability to trick and cheat everybody and anybody by sheer skill. The cheap exit out of a story that has been set up in such a way, however, is to allow the "hero" to have predicted everything, to have unlimited planning skills and technical expertise beyond belief. This is the way "The Illusionist" goes. If the last two minutes were cut, the film would actually be much better, because the audience would be left with a number of possibilities, including: "Wow, he might have had real magic." The author does not afford you, the audience, the luxury of interpreting the plot. he drops his own conclusion at your feet the way you would drop some leftovers for the dog to swallow. When Edward Norton’s love interest dies, the question may occur to the casual viewer be whether she really died or whether this is some game they are playing. To be honest: I couldn’t care less. If you look at the story development from that point on, it also does not make a difference whether she’s dead or not. Shortly before the ending, one then wonders what options there are left for the script-doctor rather than to just  end the story the way it was, and there are not many apart from those mentioned. Unfortunately, they opted for the one that I consider the more primitive one, the "Superman solution".

The lack of originality includes casting and dialogues, with a bit of actorial embarassment through Jessica Biehl, who now has with the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Elizabethtown and The Illusionist a CV that would crush anybody else’s carreer backbone. Paul Giamatti, the awkward Chardonnay-hater known from "Sideways", looks as if he is overacting, which, however, must partly be blamed on the near-grotesque costumes and make-up department. Edward Norton looks nice as ever, speaks a bit dull as ever, and will surely look forward to a less "Illusionist" and more "25th Hour" future. 

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