Movie Review: The Igainarium of Dr Parnassus (Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer) 2009

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Drama

Dr Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is part of an old time vaudeville side show type act travelling through the streets of London.   The show is run by Anton,(Andrew Garfield) a teenaged orphan adopted by Parnassus, Valentina (Lily Cole) Parnassus’ daughter, and a little person named Percy (Verne Troyer) Anton obviously has feelings for Valentina, but they seem to be unrequited .   One day while traveling they see a man named Tony (Heath Ledger) trying to hang himself.  Valentina and Anton save Tony from suicide.  Parnassus divines that Tony is a millionaire philanthropist, and Valentina falls for Tony, leaving Anton bitter and jealous.  Then Parnassus starts to tell Valentina the story of his life.  He has made two deals with the devil (Tom Waits) one for eternal life, one to woo Valentina’s mother, the catch with the second deal is that Parnassus would have to turn over Valentina to Satan when she’s 16.  So Parnassus makes one last deal, if Parnassus can save 5 souls, before the devil can condemn five souls to hell, Valentina is safe from eternal damnation.  Who wins the bet?  Panassus? The Devil?  Is Tony as philanthropic as he seems?

I didn’t like this movie. Despite a really good performance by Ledger (his last) the story meanders all over the place, like an absent minded professor telling a story with a million tangents, which never gets back to the central premise.  The theme is unclear, is it a metaphor like the story of Job about the duplicity of evil?   Is it a morality tale about good versus evil?  Is it a simple love story?  The answers never truly present themselves.  There is some nice animation by director Terry Gilliam reminiscent of his work on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but Gilliam who also wrote the story, should have spent more time crafting a cohesive story.  It doesn’t help that Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell fill in for the deceased Ledger to finish the movie.

Dr Parnassus.  Doctor heal thy movie!


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