Illusion (2004)


(director/writer: Michael A. Goorjian; screenwriter: based on Pierre Corneille’s play L’illusion Comique/Tressa DiFiglia/Chris Horvath/Ron Marasco; cinematographer: Robert Humphreys; editors: Bruno Racineux/Laurent Wassmer; music: Chris Ferreira; cast: Kirk Douglas (Donal Baines), Michael A. Goorjian (Christopher), Karen Tucker (Isabelle), Bryan Cranston (David), Richmond Arquette (Mortimer), Ron Marasco (Stan), Gibson Frazier (Interviewer), Ted Raimi (Ian, jealous bully), Scott Girish (Joseph, jock bully), Kevin Weisman (Kay); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Kevin Weisman; Awakened Media; 2004)

“Filmmaking at its most sappy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Aside from the good news of seeing Kirk Douglas back at acting after his 1995 stroke, there’s not much else that got my motor going. The film’s theme of ‘life as a movie’ is a gimmicky one that also has a fine idea about the unique reconciliation of a guilt-stricken father with his needy long-lost son before it’s too late. But that’s translated to celluloid with too heavy-handed a feel-good pat message. It’s loosely based on the French play L’illusion Comique by Pierre Corneille. Director-writer-star Michael A. Goorjian is all over this manipulative tear-jerker, squeezing out as much goo as he can from the melodrama in whichever role he has. It’s film-making at its most sappy and least convincing. Goorjian has three co-writers: Tressa DiFiglia, Chris Horvath, and Ron Marasco.

Douglas plays renown Hollywood film director Donal Baines, who is on his deathbed. The bachelor has a heavy heart, as he regrets ignoring his son Christopher (Michael A. Goorjian) for his entire life. Baines’s life was devoted to working on film and as a result the romantic filmmaker ironically led a loveless life. The ailing man’s room is suddenly transformed into a screening room and his favorite editor Stan (Ron Marasco), who died 35 years ago, appears as a ghost and shows him three reels each representing a different period in Christopher’s life. From these visions we see how Christopher grew up feeling rejected and made unwise decisions because he didn’t have a father to talk to, only wrongly imagined what his father might say. Baines shamelessly mugs for the camera (Douglas following his worst trait as an actor) as he responds to getting to know his son through the film. The reels follow the hard luck Christopher pursuing the love of his life Isabelle (Karen Tucker) from a teen, a young adult and to the present. Old man Baines desperately wishes for another chance to reunite with his son and make up for his poor parenting before he dies, and it’s up to father confessor Stan if he gets that chance. The suspense is whether this will happen and therefore a happy ending or will it end in tragedy. The suspense for me was whether my tolerance level for such sappiness will end before the film’s conclusion.


REVIEWED ON 2/18/2006 GRADE: C –