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Geneon // PG-13 // May 29, 2007
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted June 27, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Wouldn't it be fascinating to see the lives of disjointed family members unfold before your eyes when you die? Illusion, directed by Michael Goorjian of both television and film involvement, tackles such an opportunity on a personal, parental level. And, to my surprise, he does so with bashful, modest brevity and showcase elegance.

The Film:

Donald Baines (Kirk Douglas, Spartacus) lies, weakened and dying from a terminal illness, in his bright white bed within his television room. He's a successful romance filmmaker who has reached the pinnacle of his life, now laying back and enjoying baseball games and screenings of his craft. But, while thoroughly grilled by a reporter in his home, Donald grows pensive about life, love, and his missed opportunities. One in particular pierces into his mind - the memory of a young boy standing next to whom is presumably his mother.

As he falls asleep later that night, Donald wakes up to find a curly haired man sitting beside him. It's an old editor of his, one that had passed away many years ago. This editor, named Stan (Ron Morasco), persuades Donald to come with him into a special movie screening theater through his ... television? Hardly unyielding, Donald elects to take this trip that Stan promises to be a wonderful experience. In this place, Donald is sat down and shown a few "reels" of film. What is displayed before Donald's eyes, however, is heartwarming and insightful to a man who gave up his chance to have a son.

His enclosed world takes a turn towards the mystical at this point, displaying the life and times of his son Christopher (Goorjian)'s romantic endeavors as they unfurled out of the aging director's sight. From his fumbling introduction to the girl of his dreams at a young age to the aged discovery of a lost love at a much later date, Christopher runs the romantic gauntlet in true cinematic fashion much to his father's pleasure - and discontentment.

Illusion, a touching tale through an old man's familial contemplation, is a mellow, blanketing success. Reminiscent of The Notebook in scope and theatrics, this is a tale that takes a general theme and adds some magical sprinkles and concepts to the recipe. Goorjian's performance as Christopher within the "reels" achieves a generally flavorful, enjoyable quality - at least for the last two-thirds of this fantasy drama. As a youth, his enamored teenager borderlines gross exaggeration to nail-grinding degrees, but his developing and aging persona grows stronger and more alluring with development. Through well photographed, starkly different segments, Illusion gives a pondering, neglectful elder the opportunity to grow and love his son through something that appeals and relates to himself - mini-films

Where the true potency lies, and sticks from beginning to end, is within Douglas and Morasco as Donald and Stan respectively. While the "reels" performances worked well enough to at least keep interest balanced, it's within the aching, raspy cries from Donald that we're reminded of what's being shown on the screen. Douglas has harnessed his age quite splendidly. After a range of quality, high adrenaline performances spanning across Spartacus to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he now grasps an innate ability to pour through intensity through his aging frame. He's woeful, funny, and purely engrossing. To Donald's side as the ringmaster to his circus, Morasco's Stan is humorous and cleverly spoken. He's very delicate with Donald, even angel like. Stan's the perfect manifestation of a harmonious guide for Donald's discovery.

Illusion achieves just that - harmony. Pleasant and affecting from the start, this film remains imaginatively fluffy and overzealously charming until you can't stand it anymore. While that point arises a little quicker than desired and predictability starts to kick within the last stretch, this is still a wholly enjoyable melodrama with a magically strapping backbone. This is a cast and crew that whips together standard plot elements and typical theatrics, then fuels this shiny little drama to the brim with fresh, glowing bravado.

The DVD:

Since this is an incomplete screener for Illusion, the packaging cannot be fully commented on.

The Video:

Illusion is presented in a full-frame ratio. This, of course, seems to be a cropped presentation from the theatrical negative for Goorjian's beautiful little picture. Considering the clipped portions, the displayed image grasps a fair amount of quality. Color representation of the fluid, rich palette looked fantastic. Minor details seemed to be pretty sharp and richly vibrant. What's presented here looks quite nice, if it wasn't for the aspect ratio inconsistency.

The Audio:

An slightly above average Dolby Stereo presentation adorns Illusion. All the voices feel crisp and clean, while the subtle score accompaniment seems to be fairly rich and dynamic for a two-channel track. In all, Illusion sounds just fine without any hiccups or inconsistencies in the sound design department.

The Extras:

Illusion sports nothing but a Scene Index option.


Final Thoughts:

As a sharply conceived melodrama, Illusion accomplishes a lot. It integrates fantasy and imagination within a heartwarming story about the pains of a disbanded father / son relationship. Sure, it's pretty sugary and has an ending that's a bit hard to stomach, but as a whole Illusion hits the nail on its genre's head quite well. Though there's a bit of an issue regarding extras and a lack of a dynamic, accurate presentation, the repertoire between Douglas and Morasco makes Illusion an engulfing slice of warmth that's worth the time. Recommended. .

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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