Watching Neil Burger's sumptiously beautiful film THE ILLUSIONIST at the Arclight Theatre one night after struggling through ULTRAVIOLET on DVD was like savoring a dinner crafted by a master chef hours after choking down a 10-year-old Almond Joy.
THE ILLUSIONIST is old-fashioned. It's free of MTV editing. There's no CGI. It's a period piece that doesn't star Johnny Depp. (Although it does have Jessica Biel, whom I last saw fighting vampires while wearing an Ipod in BLADE:TRINITY.) But what it excels at is telling a story: a romantic, gripping story, where each scene draws you into the next, where you care about the characters and demand a resolution that somehow gives each of them what he or she deserves. Even when I saw some parts of the story coming, I didn't care, because I was in the grip of a master storyteller and I could enjoy the trip even when I recognized the route.
There's a reason THE ILLUSIONIST sold out showing after showing at the Arclight yesterday, at $14 a ticket. See it. It's far better than a summer movie deserves to be.