Idol Chatter

What if someone made a movie of your life? Would you want to watch? And if you did, what would be the highlights? What would you change? The independent film “Illusion,” currently in limited theatrical release, ponders these questions and more through the eyes of a legendary but ailing film director, played by legendary but ailing actor Kirk Douglas in perhaps his last big screen performance.

The movie begins with director Donald Baines waking up in the middle of the night to find that he has been magically transported to an old film house, where he is reunited with a deceased film editor Baines once worked with. The film editor gives Baines the chance to look at three film clips from Baines’s life The talented but lonely director has always regretted abandoning his only son, Christopher, and chooses to see three different moments from Christopher’s life as a way of reassuring himself that Christopher’s life turned out okay. The three film clips show Christopher in his teens, his 20s, and in his 30s, and all the clips center around a thwarted romance between Christopher and a woman he has admired from a distance, Isabelle. When Donald sees that Christopher’s life is about to take a dangerous turn for the worse, he hopes that he can still make a difference in Christopher’s life before it is too late.

While “Illusion” is very sweet and charming at certain moments, more often than not the movie tends to be a little too heavy-handed for me in its treatment of life, death, and reconciliation. And while the gimmick of having Baines on his deathbed in a movie theater as he observes Christopher’s life is clever at first, in the end, I felt that, as a storytelling device, it eventually gets old. Still, Douglas gives an unsettling performance, though perhaps not his best, as he fearlessly uses his own age and infirmities (he suffered a stroke a few years back) to portray an ambitious man who wasted much of his life on work that was ultimately not important. One can’t help but wonder while watching the movie if perhaps Douglas is, in some way, reflecting on his own successes and failures as an actor and a father. So for some movie buffs, his performance will be a spell-binding enough reason to watch “Illusion.”

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