Dave and Rachel's movie reviews.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Prestige

Year: 2006
Running time: 130 minutes
Certificate: 12
Language: English
Screenplay: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Samantha Mahurin, David Bowie, Andy Serkis 

Borden and Angier, in a rare moment of not scowling at one another.
Every now and again a film comes along and blows minds. Fight Club, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Matrix. There are, of course, many others. In this esteemed company is where, in my opinion, The Prestige belongs. It's an astonishing film from modern day Kubrick (or at least, if not quite there yet, is certainly on his way) and director of Memento, Inception and the glorious cinematic mind-bender Interstellar, Christopher Nolan.

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are both magicians who, due to a tragic mistake leading to the death of Angier's wife Julia McCullough (Piper Perabo), go from being great friends to bitter rivals. Borden and Angier each forge their own way and go to greater and greater lengths to outdo and sabotage each other. Eventually Borden gets the edge with the unbeatable trick 'The Transported Man', in which he appears to walk into one door and out another on the other side of the stage. Maddened and desperate to work out how he does it, Angier becomes ever more bitter and vicious. The more the rivalry spirals out of control, the worse the acts Borden and Angier inflict on each other are until murder rears its ugly head.

In the leads, Bale and Jackman are both intense and mesmerising, and Michael Caine as mentor to both of them Cutter threatens to steal the show on more than one occasion.

Michael Caine's Cutter and the under-used Scarlett Johansson as
Olivia Wenscombe, Angier's glamourous onstage assistant.
Everything about the production is extremely high quality, from set design and costumes to sound and cinematography - following Borden's encrypted notes on a possible trail to the secret of The Transported Man, Angier finds himself talking to Nikola Tesla (played to eccentric perfection by David Bowie) and the moment when he is suddenly surrounded by a field of blazing lights is a gorgeous, awe-inspiring moment.

Refreshingly, the film isn't interested in making things easy for the viewer, and you need to pay attention to make sense of the fractured chronology. The meticulously detailed script lays the foundations, but, like the best magic tricks, leaves you astonished and trying to work out exactly what happened. It demands multiple viewings and even then, there is room for near endless debate about exactly what took place.

An incredibly well crafted film, The Prestige  is spine tingling and keeps you holding your breath on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Score: 8/10

The Prestige is well-loved - see this review by Philip at The Guardian and this one from Czarina.