The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
- Director:Terry Gilliam
- Cast:Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law, Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer
- Release Date:October 29, 2009
- Running time:122 minutes
- Film Worth:$8.00
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A hard to fathom storyline and obvious CGI effects detract from an otherwise big-hearted final film for Heath Ledger.
The fact that The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus will stand as the final film performance of the very sadly departed Heath Ledger (who died midway through shooting) will likely throw critics and audiences off the scent. That's what will be discussed, picked over and analysed, while what will probably be ignored is how director Terry Gilliam persuades financiers to stump up the enormous wads of cash required for his increasingly unhinged and unpalatable cinematic flights of fancy. When he's at his best (The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, Brazil), Gilliam counts as a true movie master, capable of nothing short of on-screen genius. At his worst (Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Tideland), however, he is practically unwatchable. While not dreadful, The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus certainly sits closer to the latter camp.
Co-scripted by Gilliam himself (often a bad sign), the film's "story" bucks and heaves almost uncontrollably, working in a thousand-year-old mystic (Christopher Plummer) who's made some kind of deal with The Devil (Tom Waits), the mysterious chairman of a children's charity (Heath Ledger), and the titular Imaginarium, a sideshow attraction that provides entry into a complicated world of wonder and fantasy. It's a massive mish-mash of themes and ideas (all laid over with an unsavoury patina of CGI, sadly dislodging Gilliam's prior love for practical special effects), and not much of it really makes sense.
Gilliam's narrative irresponsibility aside, this is obviously a project built on good will, and that's certainly to be admired. Tagged with the title card "A Film From Heath Ledger And Friends", Gilliam has worked hard to finish the movie, bringing in big names Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law to play variations of Ledger's character (don't worry: it works), and shifting his narrative a little. Terry Gilliam might be a confused visionary, but he also appears to be one with a big heart.