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Director Gillian Armstrong's drama follows the efforts of master illusionist Harry Houdini (Guy Pearce) to make contact with his dead mother. In 1926, Houdini is at the height of his powers, enjoying worldwide fame and adoration from his legion of fans. The death of his mother Cecilia, however, casts a shadow over the performer's rapid success. Undertaking a tour of Scotland, a grief-stricken Houdini announces to the assembled press that he will give $10,000 to the person who is able to prove contact with his recently deceased mother. When, after exposing numerous charlatans, psychic Mary McGarvie (Catherine Zeta-Jones) appears on the scene, Houdini feels he's finally met the real McCoy. Unfortunately for the great escapologist, increasingly spellbound by the beautiful stranger, the psychic and her young daughter Benji (Saoirse Ronan) have their own illusions to spin.