Death Defying Acts

Death Defying Acts (Gillian Armstrong, 2007) Guy Pearce, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Timothy Spall, Saoirse Ronan; Toronto October 2007

The screenplay, a helter skelter mish-mash of fact and fiction, is like a hypothetical, but a fascinating one with a clear eye for story. It never loses its focus on how Houdini's emotional world is collapsed by Marie - and why. There is a wonderful sense of time and place thanks to superb lighting camerawork from Haris Zambarloukos with Gemma Jackson's excellent production design, and Cezary Skubiszewski's score is a triumph. Armstrong's visual style of story telling (stylishly edited by Nicholas Beauman) is highly effective, generating emotional intensity and a satisfying resolution. Andrew L. Urban, Urban Cinefile.

As she proved in Atonement, young Saoirse Ronan is a startlingly good actor, and Timothy Spall, as Houdini’s manager, is always good to have around.
In every technical department, the film is impeccable but at the core there’s something rather frustrating about it. David Stratton, At the Movies, ABC.


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