This feels like a fairy tale, so I will begin: “Once upon a time…”
…there was a princess who loved a commoner but was engaged to a cruel prince.
The commoner and the princess played together as children, but when they were discovered, he had to disappear. Many years later, he returns, transformed. Even his name is different. Now, he is the famous Eisenheim (Edward Norton), a magician who thrills audiences with his illusions.
One night, the volunteer he brings on stage to assist turns out to be the same girl he knew as a boy. She is Sophie (Jessica Biel), and she is engaged to the cruel and arrogant Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), not because he loves her but because an alliance with her will help him become emperor. And because he does not want anyone else to have her.
Leopold orders Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to investigate Eisenheim.
Parents should know that the movie has a non-explicit sexual situation and offscreen violence. There is a murder with graphic injuries and a character commits suicide. Characters drink alcohol and one becomes intoxicated.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Leopold was so disturbed by Eisenheim’s illusions. What did Chief Inspector Uhl want from Eisenheim? How did he decide how far he would bend the rules for the prince? What situations present people with those kinds of pressures to compromise today?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Houdini.