Quick Hit: Full of obsession, love of the game, and a deep-seated curiosity.
Everyone, I have a confession to make. I rarely make fully declarative statements about movies, because your opinions on them can so often change. Sometimes you find humor a bit more crass in your old age then you did as a young gun (I’m looking at you Hangover). Sometimes you find dialogue that used to ring true start to just seem dull. But I have never found a movie that makes me feel like The Prestige. I would dare say it may be my favorite movie, despite the flaws that you can find if you dig deep.
That’s why I’m just going to tell you up front this time – my rating for this movie is an “A+”, and I think it always will be. There is very little about this movie that I don’t consider superb. I’ll give you a brief bit of plot and then dive into each element as I can, but first – let’s remember how much I love magic. Combine that with the mystery that is science, and Nikola Tesla in general, and this movie has so many plot elements that I love immensely.
The film follows the tale of two rival magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale). They began together, and have different talents. Borden is much better at magic, but Angier is the better showman (and yes, because of my immense love of The Greatest Showman, I can’t help but continue to giggle at that coincidence). Their lives are tied together by experiences and one Michael Caine, who plays a shared influence. Their performances are tied together by a particular trick – The Transported Man.
The performances in this movie are absolutely amazing. There are few people in the business that are as good as Jackman at being so effortlessly charming. He can also parlay this into making you buy into actions that you know immediately are wrong. Contrast that with Bale’s terrifically underrated Borden, who is all about the magic itself. His typical Cockney roughened attitude has no use for the audience – it’s about the magic itself man. It’s the classic rivalry, and these two play off each other perfectly. Michael Caine accents this by playing essentially the role he does in most Nolan movies – a confident that occasionally drops epic wisdom. And I don’t know if David Bowie has ever been better cast then Nikola Tesla.
The sets are also amazing. Whether it’s broken down theaters, beautiful lush ones, or the beautiful landscape of Colorado, every piece is perfectly placed. Nolan knows just how to shoot things to expand the space, frequently using the camera to drop below stage level to take us behind the scenes.
Nolan also uses his famous non-linear story telling here, frequently working us from the ending to the beginning and back again, all while keeping all the story’s many twists intact. There’s a lot to say for the way he does this, and some of it branches into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that he keeps everything in the air just long enough. Some say he cheated the ending, but I thought it was just perfect. When you tell the tale of obsession, there’s more to it than just what you expect. You have to dive deeper.
The Prestige might be one of the few instances that I loved the movie and thought the book could have been much improved. I implore you, if you have never seen this movie, please check it out.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"