The Illusionist

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Illusionist Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Magic tricks and a murder mystery. Teens and up.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Cruel prince abuses his power; rumors circulate that magician has sold is soul to the devil; ambitious detective eventually does the right thing.


Prince shoots at birds, keeps animal heads (from hunting) on his walls, brutalizes his fiancée, and covets a family sword used in a magic trick; duchess appears to be stabbed (bloodied neck) and dead (her pale body on display, then her ghost appears on stage); an angry mob demands that the magician be released from police custody.


Couple who are deeply in love kiss passionately and have sex, in filtered light and tight close-ups (not explicit).


One f-word; prince calls his fiancée a "whore." Magician's Chinese assistants called "Orientals."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Detective smokes a pipe; wealthy characters drink wine and smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the film includes some mysterious behaviors and effects, so the magic tricks and ghostly apparitions look convincing (via digital help). The prince abuses his fiancée verbally and physically. She appears to be stabbed, her neck and torso bloodied; her body is discovered floating in a river. She later appears as a ghost (among other ghosts) for a magician's show, frightening and awing the audience. Characters wield swords and the men threaten one another with violence, leading to a fight at film's end. One sex scene emphasizes the passion of the moment, without explicit nakedness. One character uses the f-word.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJawad_23 February 12, 2016
Parent Written by80sgreenblog August 12, 2011

No smoke and mirrors here.

A Great slow building story that leads to an ending that will blow your mind.
Teen, 15 years old Written byC_didi13 August 14, 2019

Great movie

This movie was very entertaining. I could see how younger and less mature kids would get bored in the middle but kids that pay attention to small scenes in movi... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 16, 2019

Sweet, dramatic love story gem

Elaborate social class romance is sincere and mind blowing.

What's the story?

The son of a cabinetmaker, young Edward Ambramovitz falls in love with a beautiful girl, Sophie. He charms her with his interest in magic and ornate devices, but because she's royalty, their friendship, even as it develops into young love, is forbidden. After they're dragged apart one night, he disappears, leaving Sophie to follow her fate, that is, to be married off in a royal arrangement. All this is revealed (as flashback) at the film's beginning by Viennese Police Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), who is assigned by Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) to discover the truth behind a mysterious magician called Eisenheim (young Edward grown up, played by Edward Norton). The prince is affianced to Sophie (now played by Jessica Biel), and means to contain the appeal of the showman. Not only does Sophie appear strangely drawn to him, but so do all his subjects. The film follows Uhl's investigation as it comes to encompass Sophie's bloody murder.

Is it any good?

A ravishing romance framed as a slow-moving mystery, THE ILLUSIONIST smartly questions the distinctions and overlaps between belief and truth. On one hand, it concerns a young couple whose love is denied by their class differences. In between, the film also looks at class and gender conflicts, with an acknowledgment of racism of the day (19th century Vienna).

Aided considerably by Philip Glass' typically swirling score, the film uses Uhl's skepticism to offset Edward's inscrutability and Sophie's passion, but all three characters live earnestly in a realm of faith and trust. While they all oppose the practical, egotistical prince by nature, they also fall under his rule. Leopold, by turn, hates their romanticism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of magic shows and tricks: Why do the tricks fascinate us? How is it fun to try to figure out the deception (as the prince and the detective try to do)? How does the prince's presumption of his power make him seem selfish and greedy? How does the detective frame the story as an investigation, with his limited knowledge of events and motives?

Movie details

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