Houdini

HOUDINI, the History Channel’s latest biopic is no doubt insightful, filled with enchanting secrets and praiseworthy acting.

This two-part mini series delves into the life of Harry Houdini, also serving a bit as a “how to” on his tricks. Albeit, a little bit of a buzz-kill – taking away the magic of his acts – yet shows his determination and will, testing his limits for entertainment value.

Oscar-winning Adrien Brody, produced an impressive performance as the grand illusionist and ‘escape artist’. Showing the more ‘human’ intricacies, Brody exposes Houdini’s charming demeanour, with his ever-growing narcissism and grief filled body (as seen in Part 2).

Everything between costumes to sets, production wise, was beautiful, spiced with its grand cinematography.

Yet, their attempt at editing did not go unnoticed with its choppy, quick takes, which made the show feel a little ‘all over the place’. Matching with the fast cuts and tune of the rock/electronic soundtrack – which controversially, I quite liked – did not fit well with this 19th/20th century story.

A tad unnecessary as it played for anticipation, which was already prevalent in Houdini’s death-defying escapes.

‘Houdini’ carried no real emotional connection. A plot that expands and develops must also grow in emotional depth, which it did not. Houdini’s wife, Bess (Kristen Connolly) who was ever so tolerant of her husband grew agitated and resentful – a dysfunctional relationship that was swift and sudden, leaving Houdini’s narration to connect the scenes.

As something created under the History Channel, it’s a shame this biopic was founded on a lot more fiction than fact. Yet, I can understand focusing on speculation rather than solid truth for entertainment value. As so, the series is structured on the framework of a rather doubtful book, Houdini: A Mind in Chains – A Psychoanalytic Portrait. I just did not care for the subplot of Houdini’s side career of espionage as a lot of its execution was boring and felt out of place, seemingly taking up the time of what a little series this is.

Despite its best efforts, ‘Houdini’ did quite well. This beautifully designed and well-acted mini-series was compelling with its relentless pace, but would not exceed further than your Thursday night entertainment.

Stars: ★+1/2

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