The Prestige

The title of this movie, The Prestige, refers to the third and last part of any good magic trick, the part where you bring back the thing you’ve made disappear, usually with a flourish. It is the final twist. Which is apt when you’re making a movie about magicians. The Illusionist has such a moment. The Prestige has several. The stakes here are higher, both thematically and dramatically.

The plot concerns two apprentice magicians, Anton Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) in turn of the last century London. They work together, as shills for a more experienced magician. When Borden accidentally causes the death of Angier’s wife, they become rivals so bitter that they are not above murder.

The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, who directed Memento. It was written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan who wrote the short story that Memento was based on. These two know how to manipulate narrative and play with a tale’s structure. The Prestige jumps back and forth in time and you really have to pay attention to follow it. It is a clever script with twists and turns that you never see coming. The last twist, however, didn’t quite do it for me. I can’t explain why without giving it away.

The acting is excellent. Jackman and Bale are intense as the two rivals. Scarlett Johansen sports the worst English accent this side of Kevin Costner but is passable. David Bowie deserves mention as Nickolas Tesla. So does Andy Serkis as his assistant.

The Prestige is a good film, better than The Illusionist, which is a pretty neat trick.


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November 2006
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