The Illusionist 2006

Critics score:
74 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: While Burger's screenplay isn't always graceful, the movie's lovely enough that you might not notice. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Crisply acted by a cast murmuring, in low tones, about truth and illusion, The Illusionist overcomes the major obstacle in films (and there haven't been many) about the world of stage magicians. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: The ending dispels a lot of the magic, but the silent-movie palette is gorgeous, and the film is worth seeing for the inspired hamming of Paul Giamatti as Vienna's chief inspector. Read more

Joanne Kaufman, Wall Street Journal: The ludicrous climax, full of run-that-by-me-again flashbacks delivered at Keystone-cop speed -- oh, if only he could make that disappear. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: The Illusionist is a rich and elegant film, full of sly, devious characters with complicated motives. Read more

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: You might not buy all the twists and turns here, but like a magician's act, it's more fun to go along with it and not to question things too much. Read more

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Illusionist has several tricks up its sleeve, not the least of which is Edward Norton's impeccable performance as a master magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: The results are reasonably clever and impeccably executed, but one of these days, Burger is going to have to pull more from his hat than just the rabbit. Read more

Bill Muller, Arizona Republic: Because the plot spins out in such a smooth fashion and the acting is so darned good, we're distracted from the film's flaws. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: The pleasure of The Illusionist lies in its luxuriant belief in old-fashioned verities like character and storytelling; it's as thin as a sheet of marbled endpaper and as cleanly crafted. Read more

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: A lush piece of romanticism -- a tale of enchantment set in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Read more

Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle: For a film about magic, The Illusionist doesn't depend on tricks up its sleeve. It's more about artfulness, from handsome period details and Philip Glass' urgent score to an intriguing and vibrant plot. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Steven Millhauser's short story about a stage magician in turn-of-the-20th-century Vienna has been expanded by writer-director Neil Burger into an overly stately affair that often substitutes production values for imagination. Read more

Michael Booth, Denver Post: A pleasant diversion serious enough to offer a little soul. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Screenwriter-director Neil Burger capitalizes on Norton's strengths quite well. Read more

David Germain, Associated Press: Burger crafts a movie with a sumptuous visual palette but little heart, the characters detached and cold-blooded. Read more

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press: Underneath its hocus-pocus is a compelling story, very well told. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: The Illusionist works magic and illusion with romantic panache. Read more

Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times: The effects are silly, and the heavy-handed and anachronistic adaptation seems as if it's brought along the signposts to allegory but then left the point at home. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: The movie is leaden and self-serious, with an unusually hollow performance from Norton, who's not for a moment convincing as a man of raging passion. Far better is Paul Giamatti. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Dogged by an inert, stale aura that overcomes everything and everyone in the movie. Read more

Gene Seymour, Newsday: The high gloss doesn't intrude on the narrative cunning -- or, for that matter, the foxy grandeur of the performances. Read more

Lisa Rose, Newark Star-Ledger: The love story is corny, the pacing is slow and some cast members are out of their element (yes, that means Biel), but the film has a cer tain cryptic charm. Read more

Bob Mondello, 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. Read more

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News: It does not dazzle. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: The movie celebrates magic in its many forms while testifying to the enduring power of love. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, I have vague recollections of some of the actors' trying too hard, and of places where the story dragged like a tired peacock's tail. But ultimately, by God, I succumbed to the picture's faux-laudanum haze. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: It's an exquisitely crafted period picture that keeps promising more and more as it goes along -- smarter ideas, richer themes, spookier plot twists -- and keeps delivering on every promise, right up until the rug-pulling and overly hasty final sequence. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: This terrific romantic thriller, set in 1900 Vienna, is an outstanding example of frugality in the service of art. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: By the end, the canniest viewers may not be fooled, but -- and you can believe this -- they may be mesmerized. Read more

Nick Funnell, Time Out: With exquisite performances (Giamatti's, in particular), it leaves you thrillingly hovering, happily uncommitted to any one interpretation. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: You may be temporarily beguiled, but not fooled. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: The alluring and absorbing Illusionist proves that a film need not be mindless fluff or ridiculously far-fetched to qualify as escapist entertainment. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Variety: A bizarre story of intrigue, magic and murder in turn-of-the-century Vienna casts a considerable spell. Read more

Bill Gallo, Village Voice: These resolutely old-fashioned elements might not work at all in a less well-crafted movie. But this entertaining tale of wizardry and lost love vaporizes even our most serious doubts. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: The Illusionist is that rarity in the dog days of summer, a movie made for grown-ups, which is what makes it that much more disappointing. Read more