The Illusionist perhaps suffers from being released in proximity to The Prestige, a far superior period piece sharing the use of magic as a storytelling conceit. However, The Illusionist has two strong assets to point out:
- The cinematography is truly beautiful, comprised of sepia images (seemlingly projected by oil lamp) and old-school iris out transitions. These are no doubt digital approximations of the real thing, but lovely (and less distracting than it sounds) nonetheless. In a brief moment of meta-commentary, the solution to a magic trick is deconstructed on screen as involving an early movie camera.
- As if Paul Giamatti still needed to prove anything after his recent run of top-shelf performances, he is extraordinary here; not merely content to affect a realistic Viennese accent, he impressively transforms the entire timbre of his voice.