Simon, the Magician | Chicago Reader

Simon, the Magician

Bewitching but never cute, this 1998 feature by Hungarian fabulist Ildiko Enyedi (My Twentieth Century) updates the story of Simon Magus, the gnostic trickster who taunted the Apostles and pleased the masses of Rome, into a modern-day study of premillennial hysteria. Peter Andorai plays Simon, a celebrity magician and seer in Budapest; called to Paris to solve a murder, he courts a young student who polls metro passengers about God (Julie Delarme), humors an African cop who seeks a metaphysical mentor (Hubert Kounde), and accepts the dare of a rival (Peter Halasz) that he be buried alive for three days—a Houdini-style “experiment” that suggests a blasphemous resurrection stunt. Tibor Mathe's camera glides through the early sequences and turns manic once the Parisian press descend on Simon, and the lovely score uses three Bartok pieces and a phrase from Beethoven's Seventh to accent his ambiguous agenda. In French and Hungarian with subtitles. 96 min.

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