The Prestige

2007-04-14 12:11

Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are both aspiring young stage magicians, assisting the soon-to-retire Cutter (Michael Caine) with his act. In a tragic accident during a show, Robert’s wife Julia (Piper Perabo) is killed, possibly due to Alfred’s slip up, causing a deep and bitter rift between the 2 men. The hatred between them initially manifests as professional rivalry, and continues to grow into something far more dangerous and obsessive, as each man tries his utmost to outdo the other, both on and off the stage.


It is difficult to know where to begin, when writing about a film of the quality of The Prestige. It is certainly an orthodox movie, with a linear plot and no pretence at being experimental or avant-garde, and it follows many tried and trusted conventions. The thing that sets it apart from the majority of cinema these days, is that all these ingredients work together beautifully, creating something that is spectacular, entertaining, moving, and thought provoking.

With the current media fascination with magic, kicked off by Harry Potter, a story about duelling magicians hardly sounds like something new. But this “magic” takes place in the harsh world of working class London at the turn of the century. In this world sleight of hand and ingenuity take the place of wands and broomsticks, a knife in the back is a lot more effective than a curse, and playing to an empty house is dreaded above all else.

A familial camaraderie exists between Alfred and Robert when they first work together as magician’s assistants with Cutter and Robert’s wife, Julia. Their friendship is shattered by Julia’s death, and things take a nasty turn, with each man trying to outdo each other by increasingly devious and violent means. The story plays out like a study of obsession, with both magic and revenge, and the terrible price that both men inevitably pay.

The interplay between the characters is brilliant, and there are as many twists and turns in the movie as there are in the tricks that happen onstage. The world of magic is portrayed as a particularly close knit one, and in many ways The Prestige is a drama about a very strange and dysfunctional family. There is romance, violence, joy, sorrow, and a constant battle of wits that will have you rooting for either Alfred or Robert, depending on who is trying to outfox who.

The Prestige also looks fantastic, from the gaudy stage sets to the fantastic laboratory of Nikola Tesla. The eye candy is as immersive and compelling as the drama is moving. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are both excellent as enemies driven to the brink of sanity, and the supporting cast is also fantastic, with special mention of David Bowie’s eccentric Tesla, and Andy Serkis as his assistant, making for some of the film’s most memorable scenes.

I simply can’t say anything bad about The Prestige. It is, without doubt, Christopher Nolan’s best film, and it makes up for the lack of Batman Begins-style action with dramatic punch. Whether you are looking for a mystery with a nod towards the fantastic, a human drama, or Harry Potter grown up, you will not be disappointed.

- Ivan Sadler
An entertaining story about a pair of rival magicians, full of intrigue, drama and spectacular tricks. But the really magical thing is how well it all fits together.

marcus 2007/01/28 4:54 PM
Neat.. wasnt bad at all..
charmed 2007/01/29 1:41 PM
good Movie was good.. nice shocking end!
Don 2007/04/13 1:06 PM
Ivan Great review Ivan, I thought exactly the same. Very clever movie, brilliant ending.
ng 2007/05/28 3:39 PM
excellent it was brilliant! especially the end...
js 2007/06/20 3:45 AM
brilliant review! brilliant review!
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