BUENA VISTA PICTURES DISTRIBUTION / WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo, David Bowie

“Are you watching closely?”

The Prestige is a well-crafted movie, full of twists, turns, flashbacks, hidden secrets and, yes, a prestige as well. It requires a good level of concentration to begin unpicking through the swings of flashbacks and real time scenes, collecting information regarding the characters that will eventually tie together as the movie unravels.

Throughout, the themes of obsession and sacrifice are prominent. In order to master the craft and to make the audience believe, true obsession and passion is required, the characters have to live the act every day, at every time.

With this brings sacrifice, which is especially true in Borden’s journey. Angier loses his wife first, and consequently his act, money and the partial loss of his mobility in order to uncover the secrets Borden holds, where Borden loses his fingers and more as the plot thickens. The ruthless pursuit is fascinating to watch, especially as each new twist is uncovered.

Hugh Jackman performs the role of the noble showman well, and seems to enjoy his time in the spotlight and the mystery of performing the tricks. He shows a decent range of emotions throughout, and his merciless quest for Borden and his secrets is developed well throughout and is handled neatly by Jackman. Christian Bale is also dependable in the role, and performs his double life well, leading the audience into confusion as his character moods change by the wind. He plays the working class performer with ease, and has a steely determination to him which is endearing. His accent becomes grating throughout the movie though.

Turn of the century London is recreated nicely here, with a grubbiness to it that leaps out at you, but with the introduction of electricity, brings a modern feel to the proceedings, as Angier later proclaims during the final act – “The world is on the brink of new and terrifying possibilities”. The images of fin de siècle London crackling with vibrant blue electric lightning provides a great contrast and a fascinating visual.

The Prestige bubbles with layers of story, thrilling mystery, intriguing love plots and more twists than a corkscrew, and reveals an ending that will leave you wondering, and evidently has left a lot of people debating also. However, the film is enjoyable and as Cutter pronounces at the film’s end – “Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it... because you don't really want to know... you want to be fooled.”

Don’t look too hard and absorb the film, maybe you’ll uncover The Prestige.

September 25th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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