The Prestige (2006)
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 125 minutes
Wow, Monday already. Gee that week just pissed by didn’t it? That week actually went by so fast I almost forgot to watch a movie this week to review! I’m currently involved in a theatre production of “The Pillowman” by Martin McDonagh that will be opening on March 24th so I have been rather busy. It’s a black comedy involving an arrogant writer, his handicapped brother and two corrupt police officers who are all tangled up in a series of child murders. Yes, it is comedic, trust me. It makes you laugh at things you suddenly realise you shouldn’t laugh at. It’s a great play and for those of you who live (or are willing to come to) Melbourne, Australia, here is the Facebook link that includes all the details:
Ok, so I’ve gotten that out of the way, now we should get on to the review. As I was saying, I almost forgot to see a movie this week but thankfully a mate of mine asked if we could watch The Prestige because he hadn’t seen it yet and I was like “Hell yeah!” so here we are!
Now Showing this week is The Prestige which had a cinematic release back in 2006 and is a film I rank in my list of “Seven Perfect Films”. For those of you who read my last blog post, I love you, you are amazing; and you will have remembered that Christopher Nolan (the director of The Prestige) is my favourite director. But let me just say this, I don’t think The Prestige is amazing just because it was directed by Nolan, it is in fact the other way around: I think Nolan is amazing because he directed The Prestige!
The Prestige tells the story of two magicians in late 1800s England. These two magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), began as partners assisting in a magic show but, due to things that I shan’t reveal for spoiler reasons, they become competitors. And once Borden premieres the greatest magic trick Angier has ever seen, the obsession to learn his methods and the need to best him with a new trick slowly begins to consume the two of them, along with everyone they hold dear. I believe the DVD tagline sums it up quite nicely: “The friendship that became a rivalry. The rivalry that turned deadly”.
What is fantastic about this film is just how much time and effort has gone into crafting it so that every piece of the puzzle fits perfectly; that no part of the film is pointless. Every single moment that takes place in this film takes place for a reason and it is not until you learn the twist and watch it a second time (or only the once if you have a fantastic memory) that you truly appreciate that. This week would be about the fifth time I have seen The Prestige and I still found one or two new tiny, minuscule things that I had missed in the prior viewings. All these moments take place out of chronological order (that’s not a spoiler, the film is openly structured that way) but what is beautiful about that is that the film doesn’t just tell you that it isn’t in chronological order with a “2 Years Earlier” title on the screen. The audience must discern it for themselves through observations, such as Angier having a limp in some scenes but not in others so it is clear that the limp scenes are further in the story. Like I said at the beginning of this paragraph, every aspect of this film is there for a reason and if you follow the instruction that is given by the opening line of the film (“Are you watching closely?”) you may just be able to see the truth behind the illusion of The Prestige‘s events.
This film is basically a magic trick in itself. Like any magic trick, it is presenting something too you while trying to conceal something else that is happening. I believe in the magic business it is called “make them look at one hand while the other is doing something”. That can’t be the actual expression, that just sounds ridiculous but you get my point! And saying that is probably too much because now you will be looking for what the film has to hide, but I suppose that is half the fun with a good twist film!
The performances in this film are just top notch, the whole cast are just brilliant. Hugh Jackman gives a wonderful performance as the obsession driven Angier and Christian Bale gives the best performance of his career as Borden, who is so conflicted by the events of his rivalry with Angier and also with troubles in his personal life. I know you’re all thinking: “Nah way man, Christian Bale was the best as Batman in The Dark Knight!” but let’s be honest, no one watches those films for the heroes. We all went to see The Dark Knight to see Heath Ledger as The Joker. Everyone who saw that film said: “Wow, The Joker was amazing! And Aaron Eckhart as Two Face?! Blew me away!”. Batman films aren’t for Batman, they’re for the villains. But I digress. The rest of the cast are fabulous too, but without going into details I’ll just name them: Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Andy Serkis, and an awesome cameo from David Bowie! They’re all fantasitc, enough said.
So, let me just bring this to the thing that makes this film fantastic: Christopher Nolan. He directed the film, co-wrote the script with his brother (based off a book, true, but from what I hear the book is quite different so I’m giving them the credit) so everything about what puts this film together goes through him. And everything about this film is perfect, that’s the simplest way I can put it without spoiling the whole thing. The man is a genius, and yet Hollywood still won’t give him any formal recognition! Well, just shows that clearly the Academy is bored with storytelling and just want to see movies about stuff that really happened; in their minds, fiction is dead.
But the up side is, films like The Prestige still exist! So, go check it out, treat yourself, you deserve it cause I reckon you readers work hard! See you next time.