The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is the newest movie by Terry Gilliam, starring Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Tom Waits, Lily Cole, Peter Stormare, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Andrew Garfield.

Doctor Parnassus (Christopher) has a travelling “circus” which he operates together with his best friend Percy (Verne Troyer), his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole) and Anton (Andrew Garfield). Unfortunately things aren’t going too well. A long time back, Parnassus made a deal with the devil (Tom Waits) and promised his daughter to him on her 16th birthday, which is fast coming up. That’s when they stumble upon Tony (Heath Ledger/Johnny Depp/Jude Law/Colin Farrell) who is hiding something but quickly turns their whole word upside down.

Ideas! Ideas! Ideas! Terry Gilliam must have gotten them wholesale some time ago… While the movie isn’ t perfect, it lives from the stunning visuals, from the multitude of ideas and the great performances.

Things go wrong in this film: There are moments where I was more confused than anything else and the pacing was off sometimes, too. But at the same time, it didn’t really matter because watching it you knew that Gilliam needed to take these risks to make the whole thing work. And most of the times, the risk-taking pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. In any case, everything’s better than not trying.

Anyways, let’s talk about where he succeeded brilliantly. Before anything else, there were the visuals. Even if everything else would suck, it would still be worth watching for that. (If we’re talking impressive visuals of the year, Parnassus comes so much more before Avatar…)

But the heart of the film is Tony, in all his incarnations. Gilliam and Ledger manage to paint an intricate, complex and above all interesting character. Tony seems to be the most superficial character, but with every turn of the story there was another layer to him that would completely surprise you.
Depp/Law/Farrell perfectly continue the groundwork layed out by Gilliam and Ledger. (And it’s completely amazing how much the four of them look alike in the same costumes and make-up.)
And I have to admit that the ending totally blew my mind.

I already waxed about Tom Waits in this role here, but Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole and Andrew Garfield were very good as well.

Summarising: definitely worth a watch.

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