The Prestige
directed by Christopher Nolan
(Touchstone, 2006)

In the world of magic, the "prestige" is that final over-the-top astonishment, the little extra a magician gives his illusion when you're already on your feet applauding.

In the 2006 movie by that name, director Christopher Nolan gives us a film that's constantly taking one more twist, making one more confounding move.

It is its own prestige, and even though you might need multiple viewings to get your "aha" moments, The Prestige certainly can withstand that much scrutiny. It's a beautifully filmed examination of show business in Victorian England, and it picks apart the relationship of two magician friends who soon tumble to competition and then to deadly serious rivalry.

The stylish Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and the natural-born magician Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) clash in every way but their individual determination to be the best. Greatness all comes down, as one says, to what you're willing to risk and to sacrifice. Neither Borden nor Angier will blink.

When a trick both men are helping with ends in disaster for Angier, any chance they had to be co-conspirators in the world of magic unravels. Soon, they will stop at nothing to sabotage each other's career, his life, his family.

"Are you watching closely?" Borden asks close to the start. And, even though you might be, this film by Nolan (based on a novel by Christopher Priest) is a magic act of its own -- because what you see depends on your perspective, much as with other Nolan films, like Memento and Insomnia.

And you'll constantly doubt which perspective is "real" and which, in this movie about the blurring of reality and illusion, is not.

review by
Jen Kopf

30 August 2008

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