Okay, let’s be honest. The only reason people are going to see a movie called The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, is because it features Heath Ledger’s final performance. Hell, that’s the only reason I sat through this crap.
Plot? Dear God. A thousands of years old man (Christopher Plummer) travels around London in a huge moveable cart, attracting passer-bys with his unique gift: that they can go into his mind while he creates a dreamscape for them based on their actual fantasies. Parnassus’ crew picks up a drifter (Ledger), the devil shows up... I don’t know. Make sense? Of course not. But who cares.
So, is Ledger any good? Does this final film do him justice? Yes, and yes/no. Ledger was never bad. Even when he was stuck in very mediocre films, he was always the standout, as he is here. Ledger, as he proved in director Terry Gilliam’s previous film The Brothers Grimm, fits well into the warped world of Mr. Gilliam. The movie is borderline incoherent, sure. But when Ledger is on screen, you can’t take your eyes off him.
When he’s on screen. You heard the story: Gilliam was in a scramble when Ledger died, as he hadn’t finished shooting this film. Stop the film? Get a stand in? No, and this is where the movie gets interesting. In three separate scenes, Ledger’s character follows people into Dr. Parnassus’ mind. Once he crosses the threshold into the imaginarium, he magically turns into a different looking person (as Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell). When these different actors step into the character, they openly acknowledge that they look different. It’s a real ballsy move. Something Gilliam deserves much credit for.
However, the rest of the film simply blows. It’s boring, dumb and lacks any real humor. If you want to see Ledger’s final role, then by all means take your shot. But I’m not promising that you’ll be thrilled. D