My Review of The Prestige

The 2006 film about rival magicians desperately trying to learn the secrets of each others tricks.
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Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
The Prestige 2006

When two talented magicians Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) enter into a deadly game of rivalry after a trick they are involved goes tragically wrong. When Borden ties a knot during a dangerous water tank trick devised by their ingénue Cutter (Michael Caine) the man responsible for devising the tricks, when it's consequence leads to the death of Angier's wife Julia (Piper Perabo). Angier then sets out to ruin Borden with vengeance for his Wife's death which Borden may or may not be responsible for, although as the story progresses Angier's obsession to be better than the obviously infinitely more talented Borden becomes the driving factor of his obsession.

As this is Nolan the story does not start at the beginning, the relevance to the open shot of a number of top hats will reveal itself during the film but we start from near to end of the story, Borden is sneaking behind the stage in disguise and discovers Angier drowning in a tank of water, Borden is then charged with murder and thrown in jail awaiting trial, while in jail he receives Angier's diary and the story goes into usual flashback mode for Nolan (see Memento and Batman Begins) and we get to see Angier reading Borden's memoirs and the film flashes forward, Nolan delighting and entering into the labyrinthine plot and confounding and confusing the viewer.

Although this is a period setting Nolan purposely wanted it to feel contemporary not bothered about setting it's time and placing historical sights or period detail, the film surrounding is for much duration misty and out of focus, Nolan points us towards the characters and beckons us to look closer, brilliantly misdirecting us to is big rug pull or pulls if you will when they come.

That is not to say that he doesn't layout clues throughout, not unlike what Singer and Fincher achieve with Usual Suspects and Fight Club, The Prestige will reward further viewings, watching it after subsequent first viewing (and I can imagine unless you haven't the patience for this intricate piece you will most certainly want to). It's not my business or aim to reveal too much as going in with least amount of information will make your first viewing that more rewarding. Although some may cry out claims of cheating but this film shares more with Nolan's breakout second film Memento than the previous 2 big name films this follows.

Nolan optioned Christopher Priests novel around the same time as Memento and alongside brother Jonathan (Jonah) like the superb minding bending Guy Pierce led thriller wrote this together. The Prestige is not quite as ingenious or dazzling as Nolan's acclaimed second feature but it tops both Batman films and easily aces the great but flawed remake Insomnia. Since Memento the team up of Nolan and cinematographer Wally Pfister has been a more than successful partnership and the results are nonetheless impressive here as said before the characters are primary to telling the story but Pfister alongside Nolan creates a atmospheric canvas for the actors to paint on.

Jackman more famous for delivering more than adequate performances for the usual blockbuster cinema material displays depths here never seen before, it's true he's delved into the character before with Wolverine in the first 2 X-men films but here we are seeing something new from the Australian. The character seems an obvious fit for Jackman when we first meet Angier (a showman full of flamboyance) but as the story progresses he is allowed delve beneath the skin and the tragedy that allows you to side with him at the beginning, this starts to deteriorate as he becomes more obsessed with being the better magician. Michael Caine's Cutter (once again the man seems adept at the mentor role and is on superb form here) says he doesn't want to see it as he's looking for something more elaborate and spectacular, sometimes the answer is the most simple. Angier could very well be a metaphor for the viewer, as no doubt the clever clogs amongst us (outside of those of us who've read the book) might well work some of it out before the reveal but the majority of us and rightly so will be as blinded as Angier.

Bale who of late as become fashionable to question whether or not he's a the talented multi layered actor he was so obviously touted by his fans. He almost definitely given us the best reading of the Caped Crusader to date although is second run in the role not only saw him over shadowed by a dazzling thoroughly deserved best supporting actor win by Heath Ledger as the Joker but both Oldman and Eckhart didn't make it easy despite the fact it's a fine slow burning turn he pulls of in Dark Knight and his integral to the film. Here Bale despite Jackman's performance steals the show, set up at the beginning as the bad guy he turns in a performance which sees us questioning allegiance to Angier although this is also down to Jackman's excellent turn, his character is not saint and by the end of the film you may arguing over who is least worst of the two but is only by the time the hand is revealed by Nolan that it is so much more evident to quality of performance that Bale has delivered here, this is his best since his magnetic turn as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Although Bale about takes first place in the performance stakes, the combination (despite rarely appearing on the screen throughout the duration of the film) of the two actors is essential to pulling off Nolan's trick and they both work beautifully as part of it.

The supporting cast are fine, Caine is a given, Pearbo brief but a fine turn, Rebecca Hall more than capable of encapsulating the sadness of Borden's wife Sarah. The only bum note if you will is the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson as Olivia, who the two magician share as a lover during the film, her Olivia struggles with delivering an English accent and doesn't quite convince but it's a minor blip on an otherwise outstanding achievement by all, Gollum himself Andy Serkis pops up as assistant to David Bowie's Tesla, it depends on your thoughts how you think Duncan Jones Dad handles this role but I feel with his Icy delivery he saves Nolan any accusations of stunt casting.

David Julyan gives another impressive and moody score to complement the proceedings and the closing Tom Yorke track "Analyse" that accompanies the credits is a nice suitable touch to close the film on. Nolan has pulled off an incredibly impressive achievement here and all the pieces fit perfectly to assemble the Jigsaw and as Nolan says the resonating here is most important, I don't want to give anymore away as I feel going in with the least amount of information will only maximise your enjoyment of the intricate cinematic puzzle.

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My review: Best movie of all time.

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steveportee wrote:My review: Best movie of all time.
Most underrated Nolan Film in my opinion, doesn't get the credit it deserves.

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Batman Begins and The Prestige are criminally underrated among Nolan's movies.

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steveportee wrote:Batman Begins and The Prestige are criminally underrated among Nolan's movies.
Yep.

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Mason wrote:
steveportee wrote:Batman Begins and The Prestige are criminally underrated among Nolan's movies.
Yep.
True but The Dark Knight, Inception, and Memento are better

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The Prestige carries metaphors and symbolism for all of Nolan's films.

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dafox wrote:
Mason wrote:
Yep.
True but The Dark Knight, Inception, and Memento are better
False.

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dafox wrote:
Mason wrote:
Yep.
True but Inception, and Memento are better
Fact.

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MWalls wrote:
steveportee wrote:My review: Best movie of all time.
Most underrated Nolan Film in my opinion, doesn't get the credit it deserves.
I'd say Insomnia, but pretty close. Hey, it's a tough competition!

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