May 3, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole & Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell.

Long story short: (... This is really difficult!) Doctor Parnassus likes to gamble with the Devil, literally. One of the deals he's made is to give his child to the Devil when they turn 16. His daughter Valentina is approaching that age, and Parnassus is running out of both time and ideas. Maybe one more deal will help him out of the mess? Then a mysterious stranger turns up and offers a helping hand. Oh, and then there's this mirror that takes you to an imaginary world where you have to make a choice.

The name Terry Gilliam guarantees something out of ordinary. I was actually afraid that it would be TOO out of ordinary, meaning just plain weird. Other Gilliam films I've seen include Twelve Monkeys (pretty good!), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (never really got this one), The Brothers Grimm (I remember kind of liking it) and Brazil (talk about TOO weird... Damn it was confusing!). Plus some Monty Pythons. I was almost relieved when I realized I was actually able to follow the plot and I knew what was happening (almost) all the time! Of course there were a few wtf moments, like I'm not entirely sure what that ending was all about. Oh well.

Let's take a look at the cast, then, shall we! First, of course, Heath Ledger. For a while I couldn't stop wondering things like "which one was the last scene he ever shot" and "this scene must have been shot after his death, they must all feel so terrible", but luckily most of the time I was able to concentrate on the film itself. Heath was good (however, not quite like Joker or Ennis Delmar) and the character of Tony fitted him quite well. I somehow trusted Tony all the time, despite all the signs of a suspicious past, and I wanted him to be good in the end. I guess it's the charming way Heath Ledger played the character.

Christopher Plummer was excellent as the ancient and mysterious Doctor. I liked Lily Cole, too. Verne Troyer as Percy was just pure gold, with his sarcastic attitude. ("Percy, what would I do without you?" "Get a midget.") (Verne always reminds me of the British Celebrity Big Brother. I remember watching an episode, in which they had a chili eating challenge. Because of his small size, the chilis of course affected him more than the others, but the poor man ate them all anyway.) Who really won me over was Anton, played by Andrew Garfield. I was rooting for him all the time! A sweet boy, totally had my sympathies. For some reason Tom Waits's Devil left me a bit cold. He just wasn't, well, devilish enough for me. I liked the short appearance of Peter Stormare!

Then the three Imaginary Tonys, played by, as you all know, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell. I couldn't help wondering how different the film would've been, had Ledger finnished shooting all of his scenes, but I guess that's beside the point. It worked well this way, too. All of the Imaginary Tonys did well, and I happen to like all three actors, but the best one had to be Johnny Depp. He had the least screen time, but gosh, I don't know, maybe it's just his unbeatable charisma. No wonder us ladies just adore him. Man-wise, this was a very good film.

AND in other ways, too! I'm not even getting started about the visual part, but hey, Terry Gilliam has one hell of an imagination. The scene with Jude Law's Tony in the clouds, wow. And that's just one example. Quite stunning indeed. I liked the contrast between the Imaginarium and the real world, which is so modern and so, well, ordinary. It was almost weird to see supermarkets and night clubs in a film like this. But I liked it!

What else what else what else...? Well. This film (the title is so long, I try to avoid writing it. Of course, writing this, I would have written it at least three times already. Sigh.) was a positive surprise for me, because I expected something way more over the top. This is definitely not a film for everyone. But I enjoyed it.

In the beginning of the end credits there was a text: A Film from Heath Ledger & Friends. I thought is was a nice salute. This is what Gilliam says in the DVD, I quote this from IMDb: "The loss of Heath Ledger was such a blow that it was a kind of a test of everybody involved in this film. Whether, in these kinds of incredibly difficult circumstances, we could continue and make a film worthy of Heath's last movie. And I think because of so many people, so many people who loved him, respected him, we pulled it off. It's also why I couldn't put a credit that was contractual on the film. And the contractual credit was, 'A film by Terrry Gilliam.' And I couldn't do that. I just didn't think that was right. And so one night, the cast and some of the crew were all gathered in Vancouver, toasting Heath, and saying, 'What are we gonna do? What are we gonna call it?' And we all agreed to call it, 'A film from Heath Ledger & Friends.' And I think it's truly the honest, accurate, and right credit. Forget contracts, for once let the truth speak."

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (there, I did it!) was a bit of a mess at times, but I'm glad I watched it.

"Do you dream? Or should I say... can you put a price on your dreams?"


Eve said...

I had to go see this in Helsinki, because our theater didn't show it (of course, two weeks after I had seen it, it came here too...), but luckily I didn't have to regret it! The movie looked good and all the men were great. And I, too, liked the fact that there were modern things in the movie as well. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites, but an enjoyably movie anyways.

And I didn't get Fear and Loathing either. My brother thought I had gone crazy when he found out I had the DVD. But Twelve Monkeys was good! I remember watching the TM-extras and Gilliam talking about Brazil. So many people have said it being weird that I kind of want to see it :D

Eeva said...

The Imaginarium would have been so nice on big screen! But it never got here, or if it did, I missed it. Oh well.

Brad Pitt was awesome in Twelve Monkeys! Didn't he get an Oscar nomination for it, too...? I think so. And Brazil... Well, I can't say I strongly recommend it, I can't even remember what it was about, I was just confused all the time. But if you feel adventurous, give it a go! :D