topfivefilms.com Tuesday 18th January 2022
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The Prestige (12A)
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Magicians, eh? Everybody loves them (apart from people who don't) and the studios love them more than most at the moment. The Prestige is reportedly the first of three magician-related films to hit our screens in the next year, but it is very difficult to imagine that any others will manage to top this one.

Hang on, aren't we supposed to be on stage?
Hang on, aren't we supposed to be on stage?

Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins) directs this dark and twisted tale of two rival magicians in 19th century London who want to innovate the world of magic and gain the public's respect by inventing a truly memorable trick. The path it leads them down is one of obsession and enmity that twists and turns all the way up to the dark but brilliant conclusion.

The film actually opens at the start of the third act, so the audience has no knowledge of the characters. We don't know the details of their day to day lives, their relationships or how they came to be in the situation we find them in. Instead, these details are revealed through a series of flashbacks, each one uncovering a bit more of the puzzle that lies at the core of this film.

Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play the two magicians who will stop at nothing to dazzle the world with the best trick they can come up with, but things turn pretty sour for both of them when Jackman's wife is killed during a performance. Unable to reconcile over the incident, the two magicians become enemies as well as rivals, and set about sabotaging each other's acts while trying to come up with a truly brilliant trick. Bale is the first to really show something spectacular in his act, which only spurs Jackman on to steal his secret and top his bitter adversary. But both men are, in fact, set to discover more secrets about each other than either of them bargained for.

Throughout the film we are told that there are three parts to a magic trick: The Pledge, The Turn and The Prestige. The good bit is The Prestige, where the showman blows the audience's minds and takes all the credit and glory. This must be understood to truly appreciate this film's brilliance: the entire story reflects the structure of a trick, and everything is so cleverly self-referencing it will genuinely leave you in awe if you think about it too much.

The structure of the characters' lives and the events they are involved in mirror the tricks we see on screen in a series of subtle parallels. What's more, the cast is exceptional (including Scarlet Johansson, David Bowie, Michael Caine and Andy Serkis), the film is gripping, unpredictable and as dark as it is satisfying.

I could wax lyrical about the cleverness of the story or the things to admire in the film itself, but instead let's just say that this is enjoyable, thought-provoking and as close as you are likely to get to an example of perfect film-making. Movies of this quality simply do not come along very often, so make it a priority to see this one!

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Length: 128 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site: http://theprestige.movies.go.com/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482571/
Release Date: 10th November 2006

Top Five Rating: 100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0%100.0% (100.0%)
User Rating: 42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8%42.8% (42.8%)

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