Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus a visual treat

Gilliam's movie is a little lopsided, but still great to watch. If only he and Heath Ledger had more time to collaborate.

Dr. Parnassus has one of the most herky-jerky plots of recent memory. I’ll give you the skeleton---an anachronistic travelling stage-show (led by Christopher Plummer’s Parnassus) is joined by a mysterious outsider (Heath Ledger)---and then give you some of the elements that form the meat of the film: dreamworlds (a visual trip befitting director Terry Gilliam), deals with the devil (played by Tom Waits), consumerism in opposition to imagination, Russian thugs, mistaken identity, embezzlement of children’s charity monies. Gilliam doesn’t marry his visual opulence with deft storytelling, but it is a treat to watch his outsized style match Ledger’s bad-boy charisma. It’s a shame Ledger’s death stopped their collaboration from flourishing into something that coalesced better.

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