It is a movie set in turn of the century Vienna and the plot revolves around romance, political intrigue, and flawed class structures..but more than that the film also explores the relationship between reason and magic. On some levels it is quite a predictable tale of unrequited love between two people caught between duty, class and the unexplainable mystery of love--the chemistry that makes all those other important things melt away--but beyond this there is the continual exploration of magic and reason.Read all of Barry's analysis at Nevermind the Bricolage. Go see it if it gets released where you live.
Eisenheim is no ordinary illusionist, his brand of magic is way beyond card tricks and disappearing animals, and when he begins to conjure up spectral images of the dead, many begin to wonder if he is doing magic or whether something darker is at work. Norton is his usual understatedly brilliant, and everyone else rises to the occasion, the cinematography is exquisite, the music courtesy of Phillip Glass, sets the perfect tone, but it was the film's subtext that really captured my imagination.
I can't help hoping we see more of Edward Norton than we have. He is always worth watching.