The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law

The titular Imaginarium is an anachronistic traveling show with a real magic mirror which allows a person to pass through it and explore their imagination. The troupe tour modern day London when they end up saving a secretive man, just as the Devil himself has come to collect his end of a deal with Doctor Parnassus. You can’t accuse Terry Gilliam for lacking ambition, but it’s all in vain if he doesn’t have a coherent story that reigns in his excessive tendencies. This is another outlandish fable that mixes reality and fantasy, only here the two are barely distinguishable. The tedious concoction aims to combine whimsical comedy with heartbreaking drama, but it made me laugh and cry in all the wrong places. Heath Legder passed away during the shoot, and his character is played by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell in the fantasy sequences. Normally that kind of a gimmick would stick out like a sore thumb, but here it doesn’t make any less sense that the rest of the film. The only thing you bring home from the experience is Gilliam’s endless visual inventiveness, although he manages to dilute even that by introducing cheap CGI.