Are you ever in the mood for something fresh and original? Are you tired of all the safe movies designed for the masses?
Well, take a trip through the mirror of Doctor Parnassus. Terry Gilliam I like his films...
Most people know that this was Heath Ledger's last role and that he died during the filming process, but what surprised me was how much he is actually in the movie.
I would say around 50% of it.
His performance is really good here as expected. He showed us that we were looking at a guy who had just begun to scratch the surface of his talent.
Christopher Plummer (Doctor Parnassus) and Tom Waits (Satan) both turn in equally excellent acting showcases. Even newcomer Lily Cole does a good job. Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell fill in the gaps that Ledger could obviously not. Depp gets the least amount of time, but all three bring the right amount skill to each "tribute" version of Ledger's character. Since Ledger was able to film all the reality parts before his death, his ever changing look could easily be explained in the fantasy realm.
I think most who give it a shot will find themselves lost in the the mind of one Dr Parnassus and love it. :-)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is first and foremost a Terry Gilliam film, which could make or break the overall experience for you. Gilliam has a very specific style that is best described as an LSD trip with a more cohesive story. His films are usually incredibly visual, are wrapped around a unique story, and above all else spectacularly weird. The one thing his films can always guarantee though is originality. Doctor Parnassus is very similar to Gilliam's The Brother's Grimm, which also starred Heath Ledger. At least as far as visuals go. So if you're not a fan of other Gilliam films like Time Bandits, Baron Manchausen, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brothers Grimm, or Tideland among others, then it's safe to say you probably won't enjoy this film.
The other piece of information that's worth knowing going into this is to not expect much Heath Ledger. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell were brought in for a reason. You're left wanting more, which is probably a good thing. It's not a stab at Depp, Law, or Ferrell as they all portrayed Tony pretty flawlessly. Ledger is around long enough to show potential. He has a few standout scenes and a great speech or two. Then he's gone. Out of the three actors that also played Tony, Depp did the best job. When you first see Johnny Depp as Tony, he still looks like Heath Ledger. His actions, his body language, his dialogue, it all feels like the same character. Without giving too much away, it feels as if Tony changed every time he stepped through the mirror. Well, that's not entirely true. It's more like Tony's true nature was revealed more and more with each transformation.