Every year, seemingly at about this time, a film comes out that has a wavelength all its own. Though the year is old enough for its films to have an established language, vibe and feel that’s uniquely 2006, we’re not yet in Oscar season, when yearly doldrums are smashed in favor of award-caliber fare. At this cusp emerges a film no one quite knows what to make of: “The Illusionist.”

Set at the dawn of the 20th century, in the primary inklings of the Austro-Hungarian empire, “The Illusionist” centers on the whimsical fashionings of the magician Eisenheim (Edward Norton, “Fight Club”). Unfortunately, he remains forever the son of a peasant, leaving his beloved noblewoman Sophie Von Teschen (Jessica Biel, TV’s “7th Heaven”) far out of his reach.

But a chance encounter with Sophie leads to a socially unacceptable relationship and the mortal ire of Sophie’s fianc

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