Film Review: 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'

Heath Ledger in 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'.
Heath Ledger in 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'.
Use your imaginarium...

> The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Director: Terry Gilliam

Cast: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Tom Waits, Andrew Garfield, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law,

Rating: M

2 stars (out of 5)

Reviewed by Mark Orton

It's doubtful that even a plot summary with spoilers will diminish the experience of Terry Gilliam's latest folly.

After two hours of captivating eye-candy and spot-the-cameo moments, it's hard to figure out the point of the whole thing.

Apparently it's a morality tale based on a travelling theatre company, governed by the mystical Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), that gives participants a lot more than expected - I had to read the press release to get that.

The sudden appearance of the Devil, Mr Nick (Tom Waits) suggests there is a contract at stake, though you can never really be sure. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a wonder to behold, and a complete hash of anything related to cohesive storytelling.

Gilliam's impulse is to mesh together mad tangents, like a '60s acid adventure through Salvador Dali's garden. He seemingly can't resist whacking the viewer with one disjointed sequence after the next.

By the time he rolls out something akin to a Monty Python B-side, you have given up caring whether there is any merit in using Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law to fill in for the late Heath Ledger. Brilliant as he may be, watching Gilliam getting Lost in La Mancha is infinitely more pleasurable than trying to keep up with his insane imagination.

Best thing: It's a close tie between the SFX and Tom Waits. Even scrubbed up, Waits' wonderfully unkempt vagabond persona manages to transcend the morass.

Worst thing: The slim chance that Heath Ledger might be remembered for his role here.

See it with: Any graphic designers needing a break from their keyboards.


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