Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009)

Dir: Terry Gilliam
Sony Blu-ray

This movie will be forever over-shadowed by the fact that it contains pieces of Heath Ledger's last screen performance and that his part was finished by Johhny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law. Gilliam was able to pull this off because of the structure of the story. Christopher Plummer plays the titular character that roams around with his Imaginarium, his daughter (Lily Cole), and two assistants. They invite people to take part in the Imagainarium which is some sort of illusionary paradise created by the participants deepest desires mixed with the Doctor's mystic abilities. It seems that everyone that enters the contraption has a similar fantasy that looks like a computer generated, Looney Tunes fever dream. After they meet Ledger's character Tony, he is played by a different actor every time he re-enters, a clever enough solution but it can't stop you from thinking about the behind the scenes circumstances that led to this decision. To give the story conflict, Tom Waits plays a devil character that enjoys betting on people's souls with the Dr. and the devil is there to lay claim to his daughter's soul on her upcoming birthday. They enter into a new wager so the good doc may save his daughter and Ledger's Tony is a wild card that may not be as altruistic as he seems. The problem with the film is that the story makes enough since that there are unanswered questions and it's not incoherent enough to be interesting. Gilliam's reliance on computer generated images is disheartening as well, the scenes with hand-made, practical sets looks much better and give the film an air of originality that immediately disappears when the cartoons pop in. And when we finally find out Tony's real story, it's so dark and cynical yo can feel how out of place it is and you're not sure whether to laugh or be outraged. It's not a terrible film but the script seems half-hearted and borrows heavily from Giilliam's other films.


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