Continuing on with my Must-See Monday theme of all of Christopher Nolan’s films because of the release of Dunkirk (if you haven’t read my review, check it out), today I will be looking back on The Prestige.
A small amount of context so you understand a little about the plot but, as always, free of pesky spoilers. Two rival magicians in the late 1800s, played by Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Hugh Jackman (X-Men franchise), conspire against each other due to events in their past. They are aided by Michael Caine as the ingenieur who helps design and construct magic tricks. Rounding off the cast, Scarlett Johannson plays the role of the glamorous assistant and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, Starter For 10) is Bale’s love interest. The cast are all great with Jackman showing wonderful range and Bale playing the most intriguing role of the film, and perhaps his career. However, the real genius comes from the way the magic tricks, and hence the movie, are constructed (or perhaps in how my reviews are constructed… That’s up to you!)
Every film consists of three parts or acts. The first is the set-up, introducing the world of the film and drawing us into the plot. The second part changes the dynamics of the film by switching something, often by introducing a problem to the characters that we have become attached to. The third act is often the hardest part- the pay-off- where all the plotlines come together in a satisfying conclusion. The Prestige introduces the idea that magic tricks are constructed in a similar three-act fashion by the opening monologue from Michael Caine’s character. I even try to structure my reviews in the same way. And, upon viewing the movie, you realise the genius of the script of Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, with whom he frequently collaborates. They put the framework of magic tricks onto the film, consequently changing the typical three act structure we are all familiar with. Simple facts of the movie are missed by the audience, despite being placed in plain sight. If you, as an audience member, wanted to, the heart of this story could be spotted within the set-up of the movie and is even explicitly stated at points. A small warning, there is a twist at the end (and in fact, you could argue there are several) but the twist is actually not the important fact; despite the fact that, as with real magic tricks, we know something is false and we are being misled, we are still happily amazed by the twist even more. This is a movie that warrants a second viewing by default because of it!
And here is the twist to this review, which I bet you didn’t see coming, despite me telling you there would be one; there is no summary of the movie here, no more compliments. In a lot of ways, this often vies for the place as my favourite Nolan movie and that’s all I need to say. If you have seen it, watch it again and try and pick up on the little clues. If you haven’t, get watching!