An elegant story of art, affairs, and politics, The Illusionist is a tale about magic and true love. Set in early 20th century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing. Writer and director Neil Burger elegantly directs this piece based off of the short story Eisenheim the Illusionist by Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Millhauser. The Illusionist is a true love story of smoke and mirrors and intelligently intrigues and allures the viewer. Although the categories magic and romance do not tie together very well, The Illusionist interlaces these two genres into a beautifully written and performed period piece. The film begins as Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) recounts the history of Eisenheim for the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). This follows Uhl's visit to the theatre to arrest Eisenheim during what appears to be necromancy passed off as a magic show. The movie follows this account in a flashback. Edward Norton plays Eduard Abramovich, a poor cabinetmakers son who loves magic. He falls in love with a beautiful girl, Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel), from a social class far above his own. The children spark a connection and immediately begin spending time with each other. Eduard 2
crafts a special locket for Sophie, leaving a picture of him on the inside. They meet secretly in a cabin in the woods where Eduard tells of his plans to to travel and learn more magic and Sophie promises to go with him. However, after the girls’ parents force them apart and forbid the two to see each other, Eduard vanishes. Fifteen years later he reappears in Vienna as Eisenheim the Illusionist, playing too sold out crowds and astonishing audiences with his magic. When the Crown Prince Leopold hears of the illusionist’s renowned reputation he attends one of the shows. When Eisenheim asks the audience for a participant for in trick, the ruthless Prince Leopold...