the fresh films reviews

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The Prestige (2006)

Directed by:
Christopher Nolan

USA/United Kingdom

Psychological thriller

The Prestige

130 minutes

Produced by:
Christopher Nolan
Aaron Ryder
Emma Thomas
Written by (based on the novel by Christopher Priest):
Christopher Nolan
Jonathan Nolan

Cast includes:

Robert Angier Hugh Jackman
Alfred Borden Christian Bale
John Cutter Michael Caine
Olivia Wenscombe Scarlett Johansson
Julia Angier Piper Perabo -
Sarah Borden Rebecca Hall
Nikola Tesla David Bowie
Alley Andy Serkis



In 1890s London, two aspiring magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), are learning their trade under the mentorship of John Cutter (Michael Caine). When one of their regular tricks goes wrong on stage, their co-assistant, Robert's wife, drowns, which Robert blames on a faulty knot tied by Alfred. And thus begins a devilish feud between the two, both of whom are also vying to become the greatest magicians in the business.

This elegantly intricate story has an alluring quality; you get sucked into it by a vivid recreation of a bygone time when tricks could only be watched on stages, not on screens, by a couple of endlessly fascinating and dangerously zealous characters, and by Christopher Nolan's singular ability to captivate you with his very own cinematic tricks. Because naturally, Nolan himself also adheres to the film's recipe of a pledge, a turn, and a prestige: Nolan's pledge is the opening act, which reveals a murder and the apprehension of the suspected killer. His turn is how it was all preceded by an intense rivalry shrouded in mystique and fuelled by pride and ambition. And his prestige, of course, is the revelation(s) in the end. In what remains one of the Nolan brothers' most classically stylish stories, they beguile you without having to resort to mind-bending narrative razzle-dazzle the tricks up on stage and the secrecy that surrounds them are more than enough to keep you pinned and totally engaged. It's a tight, entertaining and surprisingly suspenseful exploration of ethics and study of mechanics and science. There's a fascinating (although slightly underexamined) subplot centered around the amazing Nikola Tesla (played with insight by David Bowie), and in the lead roles, Bale and Jackman are wonderfully industrious and living their obsessions.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 30.03.2024 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright 24.01.2007 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang