Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Guy Pearce, Catherine Zeta Jones, Timothy Spall, Saoirse Ronan

"There is no escape"

Star Movies

While channel hopping this afternoon, I caught this film on Star Movies about the magician/illusionist Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) and his romantic involvement with Mary McGarvie (Catherine Zeta Jones) a con woman posing as a psychic.

The film is set in the 1920s during Harry Houdini's tour of Britain. The famous escapologist has announced that he will grant 10,000 US dollars to anyone who can tell the public the last words uttered by his mother before she died. A Scottish psychic and her daughter Benji (Saoirse Ronan) attempts to con Houdini during a seance to contact his dead mother. However all does not go to plan as the two of them end up falling in love with each other.

Although the film is highly fictional, the actors still manage to portray their characters as humane and believable as possible. Complete with a very distracting Scottish accent, Catherine Zeta Jones as Mary McGarvie is a sympathetic character. Her intentions are good (to provide a better life for her daughter) even though she tricks people into believing she is indeed a psychic who can communicate with the far beyond. Saoirse Ronan who was very creepy as the young Briony in "Atonement" gives another solid performance by totally immersing in her role as the daughter/side kick/apprentice of Mary. As expected, Guy Pearce as Harry Houdini is subtle in his portrayal of the flamboyant illusionist. He provided some insights on a complex character. Houdini was a celebrity who was used to the theatrics of showbiz. As well as a media darling who was deeply troubled by his mother's death.

I'm not really sure what to make of this film. It seemed like it took liberties in narrating a chapter (which never happened) in the colorful life of a real person. A celebrity who was quite beloved in his heydays. Then it forcibly turns into a love story between its main characters. It also tried to draw interest into the world of fake spiritualists who feasted on the impressionable minds of people during that era where amusement and entertainment lacked depth. Yet it somehow works but mostly due to the solid acting of its cast!

2 popcorn buckets:

Hijinx said...

As a big-time magic geek I can't believe I missed this movie.
I don't know if I can handle the fictionalization of good old Harry Houdini. As far as I've read he was a very dedicated husband. Thanks - I'm going to check it out.

Daphn3 Laura said...

Hijinx yes I also read that he was a devoted husband so I figure the film is purely fictional based on one chapter in Houdini's fascinating life.

You're welcome and i hope you get to see the film.


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