The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (UK-Canada-France, 2009)

Ladies and Gentlemen! We present nothing new!

This was Heath Ledger’s final film, his death during shooting brilliantly finessed by having Depp, Farrel and Law also play his character. It’s also a Terry Gilliam film and we can expect, like Tim Burton, a visual feast. However, whilst the cast is good, and some of the visuals are startling, I felt I’d seen it all before. The film presents a coagulation of music hall, Heath Robinson contraptions and the Faust story – so he have seen it before but unlike, say, Wallace and Gromit, it’s done is such a cliched and clunky way that the visual sheen cannot disguise the shortcomings of the script. Even having Tom Waits as the Devil – perfect casting for his raspy voice – doesn’t compensate for the ridiculous ending.

It was a troubled production but maybe Gilliam, like Scorsese, has run out of things to say. Or maybe I’m turning into a miserable old git who thinks he’s seen it all before.

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