A movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
“Imaginarium” is an inventive and fun film that becomes more engrossing as it unfolds. It tells the story of a traveling show in modern London that is lorded over by the ancient Dr. Parnassus as he jousts with the devil (Tom Waits) over the fate of his beautiful daughter (Lily Cole).
Gilliam’s handling of the death of Heath Ledger halfway through the filming is clever but it is Christopher Plummer’s performance that holds things together. We have the usual extraordinary visual flights of Gilliam fantasy; this time around they add weight and depth to a story that might have turned saccharine in lesser hands. Just the brief monastery scenes by themselves are worth the price of admission.
Traveling shows have a long history in entertainment (examples: The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Something Wicked This Way Comes). This time around there is no hiding from Gilliam’s ferocious visual imagination.
One interesting thing about the DVD: even though I rented it from Netflix there is a healthy set of extras on it as well as a full length film commentary by Gilliam. This seems contrary to the apparent trend by movie distributors to publish barebones DVD’s for the rental market and in this case the extras are much appreciated.
Review copyright (c) 2010 by Dennis D. McDonald