Reviews: The Prestige
Are you watching closely?
The first part is called The Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. Or a film. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. You know it isn't. He told you in the opening scene. The second act is called The Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something- -Extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret, everything is... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call The Prestige. Perhaps cinema can best be described as a trick. Nothing actually happens like it appears too and the director is there to take you along the ride and stop you from ever looking at the cracks. Rivalry takes over the lives of two men, after an unfortunate accident, at they continue to take more and more from each other, too obsessed to ever let the other win. Except there's something more than that, a true magician has to give up himself to the art, live his life as the trick and never reveal it. Since a magician who reveals his secret is nothing. Everyone says they care, that they will do anything to know, but once they do, 'It's obvious when you know how' Telsa! The greatest magician who ever was. Because what more is magic than knowing one more thing than everyone else? Telsa could do things people had never dreamed of before, but now we're used to these wonders it seems boring and tame. Perhaps it's the films one error. Everything was a performance, but it cheated at the end. If thats its one flaw, I can't do anything but love this film because everything else was so perfect. The concept is undeniable, to see the illusion performed in front of yours eyes is intoxicating. Great cinematography, incredible performances by everyone. I actually lost Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson in their roles. Every magic trick consists of three parts or acts. Were you watching closely?
Perhaps Nolan's most underrated work
The Prestige is an excellent example of character driven storytelling that succeeds in building tension and weaving a web of events that and actions which can really be appreciated upon repeat viewings. As is common with Nolanís films, it is told out of chronological sequence and in three separate stages of the overall plot. The two competing magicians, Borden and Angier (played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman respectively) continue the narrative through the reading of each otherís diaries with occasional flashes back to the Ďpresentí to remind us what everything is building up to. The film asks whether youíre watching closely and thatís something youíll want to do if you wish to get the most out of the experience as although itís not hugely complex, concentration is rewarded. To keep plot details to a minimum, we follow the aforementioned magicians in the pursuit of their goals with Bordenís based around the mechanics of the trick and his own personal life while Angier is fixated with tearing him down and building his own career. Both men are soon consumed within a dangerous game of revenge and their darker natures are displayed for us. That is perhaps one of the most appealing factors the film has to offer as neither man can be considered a protagonist in the typical sense but they are both relatable and human in a fascinating way. The two men act as foils to each other and immerse the viewer in different philosophies of the same world made all the more powerful by the superb performances of the lead actors. The largest detriment to the film will likely be the ending for most people as the final aspect of the plot comes dangerously close to being a deus ex machina at best and a contrived asspull at worst due to the sharp change in direction. This said, the piece still works beautifully and the final reveal can be seen as in keeping with the overall theme, The supporting cast are also excellent with Michael Caine giving a predictably strong character to the role of Cutter, Angierís illusionist. The female roles are limited, in keeping with Nolanís films, but despite this both Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson deliver well characterised performances (the latter not deserving of the criticisms levelled at her). In conclusion, the Prestige is a smart, memorable and captivating film well worthy of your attention, twice.