The Prestige

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2016) wr. Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, Christopher Priest (novel)

Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine

After a tragic accident, two stage magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.

It's reassuring to have Maurice Micklewhite aka Sir Michael Caine in any film. He seems to have a good understanding of not only his character but also of how that relates to every other one and to the meaning of the film as a whole. However, casting Australian Hugh Jackman as an American and American Christian Bale as an Englishman seems a bit perverse. Neither is very good in their part anyway, accents aside. Bale was born to play the introverted Batman, and Jackman to play the amorous cowboy in Oklahoma. (Both Caine and Bale are in other Nolan films.)

But this flick is all about the plot - as you would expect from these writers. I'm pretty bad at whodunnits, and this is a howdunnit, and I didn't see how he done it, even tho we're actually shown. Thank the goddess for Wikipedia - tho it did leave out one of the more important plot twists that I did dimly understand.

As to the ethical basis of the story, I don't think it's fruitful to enquire. It's showbiz, surface.

Finally, I repeat what I've written about other Nolan films: he's more interested in his tricky plots than in what makes actual people tick. I suppose there's room in the cinematic world for that.

... Directing his first period feature, Nolan has picked the ideal setting for a filmmaker of such rationalist inclinations—that seismic moment at which the Victorian era began to cave under the weight of the nascent Machine Age. Thus The Prestige, filmed with a minimum of digital chicanery, is at once a lament for the loss of the manual and analog and an awestruck marveling at the possibilities of electricity and mechanization. In one moment of ethereal beauty, Tesla makes a field of oversize lightbulbs burst into brilliant illumination without apparent benefit of wires or generators. And so one is reminded how, for all the wonderment of a Houdini or a David Copperfield, the true magic of the universe lies in the onward march of science and industry, and in those many things we now take for granted—like movies themselves—that once seemed the workings of some terrifying dark art. Scott Foundas, Village Voice.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 27 August, 2018 | Now: 7 September, 2018