Death Defying Acts (PG)

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The Independent Culture

This episode in the life of Harry Houdini has plenty going for it – Guy Pearce as the celebrated escapologist, Timothy Spall as his manager, Gillian Armstrong directing – and its 1920s Edinburgh setting offers a Gothic intrigue.

Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the spiritualist widow who briefly charms Houdini with the promise of relaying his beloved mother's dying words, and just about keeps the Scots accent steady. Sadly, the tentative romance between the pair never catches fire.

It's a movie that seems to have been lavished with care and performed with gusto, yet its tale of fakery sounds its own knell: there's not a believable moment in it.