Sunday, January 10, 2010
Movie Reviews: THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), the leader of a traveling show, has a dark secret. Thousands of years ago he traded the soul of his daughter, Valentina, to the devil. Now the devil has come to collect his prize. To save her, ..Parnassus.. must make a final wager: Whoever collects five souls first will win Valentina. Tony (Heath Ledger), a man saved from hanging by ..Parnassus..' troupe, agrees to help collect them, with his eye on marrying Valentina.
Cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell
Director: Terry Gilliam
Opened ..December 25, 2009..
Runtime: 2 hr. 2 min.
Rated PG-13 for language, violent images, some sensuality and smoking
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is more than Heath Ledger’s final performance. It’s a bit difficult to separate him and the film at the outset especially once Ledger makes his first appearance, hanging from a noose no less. Gilliam does the smart thing in this sometime choppy but very imaginative fantasy. He addresses Ledger’s passing and devotes a scene to eulogizing him in a surprising effective way that works well within the story. Gilliam’s creative eye and his distinctive style is very much on display and the fantasy element that occur inside the imaginarium are the real high points of the film where you can sense the energy coming from the screen. The film falters in the more mundane real world sequences which creates an uneven flow throughout even though the cast does it’s best to keep you interested. Christopher Plummer performance as the titular doctor is appropriately sagely yet he’s able to also show how deeply flawed the character is as well. Plummer is clearly having a good time playing this Faustian character. Heath Ledger does fine work as the amnesic Tony, giving him a nice dose of huckster charisma while keeping an air of enigma throughout. Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell do well as the different aspects of Tony’s psyche within the imaginarium all the while channeling Ledger in homage. Virtual newcomer Lily Cole provides a nice sense of innocence while looking like a Botticelli model. Tom Waits and Vern Troyer both have fun in broadly written caricatures. Andrew Garfield barely registers even when he’s front and center. Even though it’ll be remembered more as Ledger’s final act, Imaginarium is an impressive bit of creative filmmaking from a director who’s never been afraid to test limits of classical story telling. Gilliam’s film is far from perfect but you’d be hard pressed to deny it’s creative energy during it’s more inspired segments.