DVD Review - The Prestige (2006)

This was recommended to me. 'Watch it', I was told, 'It's about magicians'. I rolled my eyes, but then last night after a quick look up on the internet I decided to give it a go. I was glad that I did. With the release of The Dark Knight Rises round the corner I was looking forward to seeing some more of Christopher Nolan's work and with my new found love for Christian Bale still fluttering in my heart The Prestige was set up for success. As well as Bale, it has a stellar cast including  Hugh Jackman (X-Men), Michael Caine (Batman Begins, Dark Knight) and Scarlett Johansson (Avengers). Oh, and in case you miss it (which I did somehow) there's David Bowie too!

 It is indeed about magicians, more specifically a rivalry between two of them. Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) used to be friends and assistants to another magician along with engineer Cutter (Caine). When a trick goes wrong one day and Angier's wife is killed, Borden is blamed. The pair go their separate ways and both magicians compete to be the best. What starts off as petty sabotage and a case of one upmanship turns deadly though as the stakes change when Borden pulls of a trick that defies explanation. Enraged that Borden seems to have everything he wants Angier is determined to find out his rival's secrets but ends up pulling them both (and everyone around them) into a pit of obsession, deceit and illusion.

The film start is a little messy. For ages I was sat there thinking to myself that nothing made any sense  but then I remembered this was Nolan directing. I got the same feeling with Memento but that turned out marvellous, I decided to stick it out. So I watched as the story darted back and forth, as people had conversations about things I couldn't understand and I became frustrated. It was weird.It wasn't angry frustration, instead it was this intense suspense building up inside of me until bit by bit I realised I was focusing and the many, many elements started merging together.

The film is layered to perfection and is only helped along by the cast. Nolan and Jackman make great enemies. The ruthlessness between them is as dark as the Victorian backdrop making the idea of a face to face confrontation achingly tense and the actuality of it explosive. Caine is coarse and although I saw little differentiation between his take on Cutter and that of Alfred in Batman, it doesn't matter because he plays fractious mentor with ease. Johansson who looks stunning in this film adds an effortless lightness that is sometimes so needed and Bowie does't even look like Bowie, seriously.

What you need to remember with The Prestige is that the subject is magic and anything can happen. Nothing is concrete at all and when I thought I'd worked one thing out, someone or something was there to steer me in a new direction. Fantasy and reality become perfectly crossed wires as the magic of showmanship takes on a level with an intricate plot that twists, surprises and baffles. Nolan truly is a master of his art.

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