FILM REVIEW The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

BY C. ALLEN ADAMS

CONTRIBUTOR

Before I begin, let me first tell you I am normally not a big fan of independent film. I like the idea, but quite honestly, I’m just not cultured enough to get past the need for action, big names, and the well promoted, popular kind of movies. However,this movie may have single-handedly changed my opinion about independent film.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus took me to a fantasy land hidden deep within myself, only slightly reminiscent to Alice In Wonderland, yet with a hint more modern. A priest (Christopher Plummer), whose  beautiful young daughter, Valentina (model Lily Cole) must be given to the Devil on her 16th birthday to pay the debt of a past mistake. Dr. Parnassus will do anything to change the hands of fate, when suddenly he is offered a second chance. The bet? The first one to collect five souls gets to keep Valentina.

The incredible performances by not only Heath Ledger,  Colin Farrell, Jude Law, and Johnny Depp, who all play Tony, the fast talking charmer/salesman, as well as the entire cast of characters (including  Verne Troyer and Andrew Garfield), combined with great computer graphics tastefully used and suddenly you’ve got one heck of a  film  ready to entertain movie-goers. The plot isn’t hard to follow, but the chaos of a traveling show gone mad makes it difficult to keep up with. All I can tell you is “Only one may enter the mirror at a time!”

There is no shortage of laughs although the serious and dark theme of the film announce loudly, that this is not a comedy. Imaginarium captures the audiance from the beginning and continues to grip you until its strange twist conclusion.

I might mention this was the final performance of Heath Ledger and production of the film almost stopped upon his untimely passing. It was Depp, Law, and Farrell that encouraged writer/director/producer Terry Gilliam  to continue, and after a few slight changes to the script, were able to complete this film which earned high honors at the Cannes 62nd film festival.

I haven’t seen a movie quite as entertaining and captivating in a very long time. I urge you to check this one out.

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