The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

"Very Good"

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Review


Returning to the florid visual style of Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam takes us on a whimsical flight through his imagination with this scruffy, messy movie. The plot doesn't really hang together, but the cast and imagery are magical.

Travelling showman Parnassus (Plummer) performs on the backstreets of London with his lively troupe: his elfin daughter Valentina (Cole), the eager Anton (Garfield) and the tiny Percy (Troyer). One night they encounter an amnesiac, Tony (Ledger), who joins the gang and suggests modernising the show to attract a better audience. What Tony doesn't know is that Parnassus has made a pact with the devilish Nick (Waits), buying immortality in exchange for Valentina's soul on her 16th birthday, which is coming soon. And Tony has some secrets as well.

Even though it's set in modern-day Britain, the film has a medieval feel to it through the colourfully rattling sets and threadbare costumes, plus Gilliam's usual atmosphere of kinetic chaos. It's a fascinatingly inventive world for us to fall into, mainly because we never have a clue where it's going next or what we're going to see. And the cast members maintain a loose restlessness that allows for some inner emotion to emerge. This is especially effective with Plummer and Garfield.

The key to all of this creativity is the doctor's magical mirror, which sends punters into their imaginations, an experience that's either wonderful or horrific, depending on the person. This element also allowed Gilliam to complete the film after Ledger's untimely death, as his through-the-looking-glass alter-egos are cleverly played in three key sequences by Depp, Law and, most effectively, Farrell. It's almost serendipitous that this twist of casting lends the film some subtextual weight it might not have had otherwise, touching on issues of identity along with the more obvious central theme about the masks we all wear every day.

So it's a bit frustrating that the plot doesn't hang together better than it does, lurching through the jarringly twisty story about Parnassus' haunting encounters with the cheeky Nick, during which the doctor gets a chance to save his daughter in exchange for five other souls. This race toward redemption never grabs much traction, but it's so vividly put on screen that we can't help but enjoy the ride.



The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Facts and Figures

Genre: Sci fi/Fantasy

Run time: 123 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th January 2010

Box Office USA: $7.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $58.9M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Infinity Features Entertainment, Poo Poo Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 121 Rotten: 68

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Amy Gilliam, ,

Starring: as Doctor Parnassus, as Tony, as Imaginarium Tony 1, as Imaginarium Tony 2, as Imaginarium Tony 3, as Anton, as Devil, as Valentina, as Percy, as Classy Shopper 2

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.