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‘The Illusionist’ casts magical spell over viewers

In this edition of the “Critic's Corner,” “Today” movie critic Gene Shalit reviews the new film, starring Edward Norton and Jessica Biel.
/ Source: TODAY

Magic, intrigue and foul play are the ingredients in “The Illusionist,” a new movie starring Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Edward Norton. “Today” Gene Shalit says there's nothing up their sleeves — except a good time.

And now for something wonderfully different — “The Illusionist.” A beauty. A mental dazzler. An exotic, romantic magical mystery with Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. The year is 1900, Vienna. An illusionist named Eisenheim, Austria’s Crown Prince Rudolf, his beautiful fiancée, Princess Sophie (Jessica Biel), and Vienna’s chief police inspector Uhl all square off in a tangled rectangle of unrequited love, baffling magic, and a murder that rocks the monarchy. The city’s agog over Eisenheim (Norton), whose illusions astound audiences. But he’s scorned by the scheming Prince, who commands his chief inspector (Giamatti) to find a reason — any reason — to arrest him. Inspector and illusionist vie in a baffle of wits. The inspector admires his quarry, and his quarry hopes to pull Sophie out of his hat and make the prince disappear. The film looks gorgeous, Philip Glass’s music is hypnotic, and Giamatti and Norton are right on. Accolades to Neil Burger who, by his splendid writing and direction, has himself made magic.