Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Premise: Two magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) engage in a bitter rivalry that spirals out of control as they attempt to sabotage each other’s life and work.
What Works: The Prestige is a joy to watch. It is an intelligent and well-paced film that respects its audience enough to give them a lot to think about. The content balances plot with character, setting up characters that will tug at the audience’s sympathies while challenging them with the character’s devious ways. The performances support this. Hugh Jackman finally gets a role that places him in the center of the dramatic action and allows him to demonstrate his acting skills. Christian Bale’s role in The Prestige is the kind of antihero territory that he does so well, and Bale’s performance is again up to par. The Prestige is a film that has some deeper meanings going for it as well. The film is about fame, greed, and vanity and how a performer’s stage identity may cross over into that performer’s personal life. The story takes time to develop the cost of these vices on the humanity of the performer and executes them in ways that make the story a critique of the Hollywood dream.
What Doesn’t: The film alternates between very different points on the timeline. It does this successfully, but the plot can become disorienting, as there are few clues to when each scene takes place and the audience will be constantly piecing together exactly how the story assembles. This is part of the fun of the picture, but audiences who are lethargic or just not able to keep up may get frustrated.
Bottom Line: The Prestige is a superb film about fame and fortune and the lengths to which people will go to attain it. This is another great film from director Nolan who is fast becoming one of the hottest American directors working today.
Episode: #114 (October 29, 2006)