Is there anybody who could watch both of the 2006 period-magician mystery movies and not compare the two? Of course not, so why pretend? I’ve rented ’em both in one weekend.
Surprisingly, this is an understated little movie… a simple trick ending (though I don’t know how Norton could’ve planned the sword-fight between the girl and the prince), simple characters and staging. What’s the deal with police inspector Paul Giamatti being talked up as the best part of the movie, though? Just some post-Sideways holdover I guess. He and Norton and the girl are good, bad guy Rufus Sewell less so.
Ed Norton is a magician who likes the prince’s crush Jessica Biel, and taunts the prince at a party. Prince gets all upset and tries to kill Biel in a drunken rage, but nobody sees the fight so she’s just found dead and the prince isn’t blamed. Norton shuts down, opens a new theater and starts summoning ghosts, eventually bringing up her ghost who, through audience questioning, casts suspicion on the prince for her murder. Prince is brought down, shoots himself in front of Giamatti, and Norton and his not-dead girl live happily after an eerie Giamatti-chase through the streets that is every bit like the ending of The Usual Suspects.
Very likeable movie, subtle (even more so when compared to The Prestige).