The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

“Not my fault Im late on this one. LJ was down on Fri night when I planned to write it up, and just hadnt gotten around to it since. Yeah I know, Fri night is the least likely day of the week you’ll find me going to the theater (unless initiated by a buddy) but my options for Dr Parnassus were Harvard Sq or the Common. And since I try to avoid the AMC Loews Boston Common as much as possible I figured going straight after work on Fri would be better than a round trip the length of the movie that would knock out most of my Sunday.

I dont think ya’ll would be surprised that the reason I had to go out of my way to see this movie is Heath Ledger. For that, the film was worth it. The first image of him on screen caused so many gasps and sighs from the audience. I’ll try to spare you the sappy tribute as much as possible, but goddam I love that guy. No other celeb death has affected me the way his did. I remember a buddy of mine said he found out from this tribute. I’d actually heard it from someone and dropped everything and ran to a computer to verify the news.

That said, I think Im with the camp that will prefer to think of Dark Knight as Ledger’s last film. That was truly an iconic performance in a nearly flawless movie. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and it totally breaks my heart to say this, wasn’t really that great. I mostly say that cause it was just weird and I did not get it at all.

The big question about this film was how were they gonna salvage Ledger’s work, and as Im sure you’ve all heard, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell took it over. I have to say, for the most part, that worked quite well. Kinda serendipitous that this movie actually lended itself to that solution. Gonna try to explain as best I can without giving anything away, which is also tricky since I didnt entirely understand all of it. But the characters would go into this magical world (the Imaginarium) that was formed by their imaginations, so having a different appearance was entirely possible there. They even established this early on before it happened to Ledger’s character. That much worked. Depp was the first one to step in, and he charmed his way through it beautifully. The one downside was that the story had to be concluded within the imaginarium, since Im assuming they hadnt gotten that far in filming otherwise, and there was a bit of a disconnect having a different actor resolving Ledger’s character. But its not like there were too many options.

As far as the rest of the film, again it didnt make much sense to me. The pacing was a bit slow, things werent ever fully explained, and it was just all so absurd. Admittedly, I had similar feelings toward Brothers Grimm (another Terry Gilliam film) but then it grew on me on a second viewing. Im really really hoping thats the case here.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – \m/ \m/

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