The Prestige Review
"The Prestige", Warner Bros Pictures, 2006
The 'Safe' Christopher Nolan pick is, funnily enough, his least Nolan-esque. Whilst still retaining that sense of scope through his obtuse storytelling that spotlights the uniquely dark and mysterious world of magic, there is something almost uncomfortably grounded about the way he goes about portraying obsession despite all the different ludicrous directions the story takes. This more 'low-key' direction, however, never forgets the small details that makes Nolan's works totally hypnotic and begging for a rewatch.
The personal charm this film has over his filmography ultimately comes down to the simplicity of the premise - the game of oneupmanship. The universality of Hugh Jackman's Angier and Christian Bale's Borden manages to weave itself down a rabbit hole of torment and destruction much in the same way as a good psychological thriller. This enables the auteur-trademarked ever-moving puzzle pieces to bend and contort in an earned and gratifying way that never feels contrived despite its overt use of a familiar formula. The tight-rope between the extravagant and the deeply personal seeps through into its sentiments of watching closely and the deeply-embedded themes of performance and deceit that gives its characters a deeply flawed and human edge that understands both their brilliance and their darkness. Balancing perhaps on the idea of secretly wanting to be fooled as passive spectators, a motif forwarded by Michael Caine's Michael Caine character, it empowers the audience to decipher the trickery whilst enticing us to buy into the sad truths that magic can bring. Whilst the same can't be said for either of the characters' necessary anchors in the form of ANY of the women characters, there is a timeless quality to the late 2000s unpolished warmth of its style that reflects the subtlety of the direction that makes the unremarkable, remarkable.
Overall, a tightly-constructed ode to the wonders of technology and the boundless opportunities of cultural development and the art form of performance can bring, as well as an interesting examination of the audience's role when it comes to the suspension of disbelief.