Sunday 12 December 2010

The Prestige (2006) - Christopher Nolan

"Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called 'The Pledge'.  The magician shows you something ordinary... But of probably isn't.  The second act is called 'The Turn'. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary...  But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call 'The Prestige'".

At first glance, this film doesn't appear typical of Nolan's work, seemingly more of a straight drama when compared to the abstract Memento and perplexing Inception.  But though it's a little slow to show it's hand of cards, The Prestige reveals itself to be no less labrinthine in it's narrative.  Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are two illusionists, competing for audiences, fame and wealth in early 20th century England.  But what begins as a simple rivalry escalates into a narrative of obsession, deception, sacrifice and sabotage.  In typical Nolan fashion, twists pile upon twists, culminating in a spectacular unravelling.  Once you get past the jarring English accents the narrative slowly sucks you in and before you know it, two hours have passed.  I will say no more for fear of ruining the plot...

The aesthetics and cinematography are beautiful, the performances excellent (though Bale appears to be stuck in dark, brooding Batman mode) and the film as a whole is subtly gripping.  Nolan is rapidly developing an impressive and ingenius oeuvre.  After the next Batman film, who knows what he will come up with next - I for one am on the edge of my seat.