Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    Deserved an end-of-the-year prestige release, is a true work of art in a marketplace filled with velvet paintings. It's positively magical, the reason we loved movies in the first place.
  2. A lush piece of romanticism.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Gallo
    Beautifully acted and handsomely mounted, this gorgeous period piece is an intelligent and intriguing exploration of "the dark arts" -- less dependent on mere hocus-pocus than on the convincing journey of the soul undertaken by its hero.
  4. The less said about the twists and turns The Illusionist takes, the better. Suffice to say, Eisenheim's masterful deceptions do not stop when he exits the stage.
  5. The Illusionist looks rigorously styled and measured, and every one of Norton's postures feels chosen. Yet the interesting actor has chosen so thoughtfully that we're riveted.
  6. Reviewed by: James Greenberg
    Outstanding production values and mysterious subject matter give the film a surprisingly opulent feel for an independent Sundance entry.
  7. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The ending dispels a lot of the magic, but the silent-movie palette is gorgeous, and the film is worth seeing for the inspired hamming of Paul Giamatti as Vienna's chief inspector, whose plummy tones made me sure I could hear the ghost of James Mason cackling.
  8. This entertaining movie is content to be something a bit more modest: a pungent period folk tale that teases you until the very end.
  9. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's an exquisitely crafted period picture that keeps promising more and more as it goes along--smarter ideas, richer themes, spookier plot twists--and keeps delivering on every promise, right up until the rug-pulling and overly hasty final sequence.
  10. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    By the end, the canniest viewers may not be fooled, but--and you can believe this--they may be mesmerized.
  11. What Burger and his colleagues have done is to entrance us with a richly acted, beautifully produced story.
  12. 75
    Edward Norton is at his best here, chalking up another boundary-stretching performance this year in the wake of the unfairly overlooked "Down in the Valley."
  13. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    One of the strengths of The Illusionist: Everyone in it actually appears to be acting in the same era.
  14. A rich and elegant film, full of sly, devious characters with complicated motives.
  15. 75
    This handsome, elegant and restrained fable about love, artifice and power in fin de siecle Vienna is lavishly imagined and yet oddly airless.
  16. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The Illusionist casts an exquisitely bewitching spell with its dreamy atmosphere and pervasive sense of suspense.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Illusionist is like an overupholstered wing chair in the corner of a men's club -- you settle in only to be startled by how ridiculously comfy you are.
  18. 75
    An infectious mix of romance, mystery, and magic.
  19. Reviewed by: Jared Shimizu
    A visual delight as well as an satisfying period drama.
  20. 75
    This flight of fancy stays aloft on the power of its acting and its atmosphere.
  21. 70
    So beautiful to look at that it practically feels like a drug.
  22. Sewell and Giamatti ham it up as the imperious pretender to the throne and his ambitious but conflicted minion in this uncheesy but entertainingly tricky mystery. There's more heat between the two of them than between the sappy lovers.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A bizarre story of intrigue, magic and murder in turn-of-the-century Vienna casts a considerable spell in The Illusionist.
  24. Reviewed by: Joanne Kaufman
    It's important to keep in mind that little in The Illusionist is quite what it seems. That goes for the movie itself, fashioned from smoke, mirrors and, fortunately, Mr. Norton's magical performance.
  25. An overly stately affair that often substitutes production values for imagination.
  26. The movie also is designed to be an actor's showcase for Norton and Giamatti, two of the best movie actors of their generation. Each has his moments of fire, but some element is missing from the script that would make this duel of the titans riveting.
  27. 67
    The results are reasonably clever and impeccably executed, but one of these days, Burger is going to have to pull more from his hat than just the rabbit.
  28. Eisenheim's storybook romance with aristocrat Sophie (Jessica Biel), the childhood sweetheart now expected to become Leopold's princess, is the most compelling thing about a film that should dazzle the eye as much as stir the heart. It does not dazzle.
  29. The picture feels like an entertaining short story, competently executed at undue length, and that's its origin.
  30. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    It's not on a gasp-inducing making-the-Statue-Of-Liberty-disappear level, but with its opulent presentation and confident storytelling, The Illusionist has the power to keep an audience rapt like a good old-fashioned card trick.
  31. 58
    The Illusionist might trick some moviegoers into thinking it's clever, deft, old-fashioned fun. But I urge those folks to stay home with a real classic romantic thriller on DVD or cable to remember the difference. This film doesn't even manage to breathe old life into the forms it apes.
  32. 50
    The Illusionist is dogged by an inert, stale aura that overcomes everything and everyone in the movie.
  33. For a film meant to float on a gossamer veil of mystery, The Illusionist falls -- make that flops -- with quite the heavy thud. It's an intended piece of magic that plays like a ponderous slab of melodrama, sleight of hand gone ham-handed.
  34. 50
    Rather than taking viewers on a twisty, provocative journey through a mazelike meditation on appearance and reality, The Illusionist finally just sits there, looking like a very well-produced pilot for PBS's "Mystery!" series. It's a sophisticated snooze.
  35. Reviewed by: Jeremy Mathews
    While it might have made a good short, as a feature film The Illusionist comes across like a magician whose tricks are transparent.
  36. The film's moody, dark palette and soft, inchoate backgrounds tend to lull the senses rather than actively engage the viewer. The magic practiced by this illusionist does not extend to the screen.
  37. 40
    The movie is leaden and self-serious, with an unusually hollow performance from Norton, who's not for a moment convincing as a man of raging passion. Far better is Paul Giamatti.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 265 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 89 out of 101
  2. Negative: 3 out of 101
  1. Jan 23, 2014
    Awesome. Great plot, great acting. This is sort of steampunk-like movies (like Sleepy Hollow). Plot takes you from the beginning till the end, I dont want to spoil, but at the end of the movie I has the same face as of Paul Giamatti ))
    Jessica Bil is very cute!
    Full Review »
  2. Dec 28, 2013
    Yes, The Illusionist is not very believable, however, that does not mean it does not allow you to suspend what you know to be true for the two hour spectacle, just as in Eisenheim's performances. Edward Norton shines as always in the lead role and is central to mystical and magical nature of the film that makes it so enjoyable. Full Review »
  3. Nov 13, 2013
    The Illusionist shows off its tricks.
    The Illusionist initially has eye popping appeal with a cast of great actors. The premise itself is as
    mysterious as it sounds, and the result it a fine movie. It suffers though with a lack of explanation for blatant phenomenon's it preforms and then ignores. Full Review »