Monday, April 09, 2007


RUNTIME: 130 min.
RATING: *****

THE PRESTIGE may well be called the audience-attention span tester. The movie starts of with –“Are you watching closely? ” And if you want to stand any chance of solving this latest labyrinth from the Nolan brothers, you better be. I might want to add, move over Manoj Night Shyamalan; Christopher Nolan is the master of story telling. And he never resorts to cheap last minute twist-endings; his movies are way too dignified for that. Christopher Nolan might just be our generation’s Alfred Hitchcock. He has created four films and in MEMENTO and BATMAN BEGINS he has at least two masterpieces. I would go as far as saying that by the look of it, Nolan looks somebody who cannot make a bad movie.
THE PRESTIGE is about two magicians- Alfred Borden and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and their professional rivalry that very much has it roots in a tragedy. I do not ant to disclose anything more so as to ruin your journey, journey through the Nolan brothers’ maze. A great deal of the fun in watching a movie like THE PRESTIGE, much like THE USUAL SUSPECTS and MEMENTO is the journey, the constant raking of your brains, watching every thing closely, coming up with some early theory only to see it smash away. THE PRESTIGE derives its title from the third act of any magic trick, the first being the Pledge where the magician shows the audience an ordinary object and asks them to inspect it. The second act is the turn where the magician takes something ordinary and turns it into something extraordinary say make something disappear. But that is not all, you need to have a third act where you make it appear again, return the object back to its original ordinary self and therein lies the third act- The Prestige. Much like a thriller, where the first act is The Introduction and the narrator introduces the characters. The second act, The Plot where something meaty happens to one or more of the characters. The third act is The Suspense where the narrator not only needs o thrill the audience but to do so it convincingly. Since THE SIXTH SENSE, we have been audience to a host of stupid last minute twist endings that needless to say have plot holes a truck can park in. Even Shyamalan has not been able to repeat his magic that drove audiences around the world crazy, partly due to his over reliance on the last minute twist ending and the audiences’ anticipation of it. But Nolan, the master behind the most ingenious MEMENTO, seems to be a dozen steps ahead of the audience. People might argue that Nolan is way too cerebral with his movies; he lacks a genuine emotional core. I guess he gets to the audience’s hearts through their brains because I still haven’t been able to shake off BATMAN BEGINS or MEMENTO. He’s a narrator’s delight and not only because of his mastery over fractured screenplay and “misdirection”, also because he knows how to use them according to the needs of the story. More so, his visual tastes re exactly in place. He knows how to create a mood, and as with MEMENTO and BATMAN BEGINS, THE PRESTIGE is something that will stay in your head not only because of its plot, but also its mood. With other directors like Fincher and SE7EN, Mendes and ROAD TO PERDITION, I can point out exactly what contributes to that mood. Their style is loud. But Nolan is so very subtle, I still have not been able to pin point what is it technically about MEMENTO that makes it so very special. Ditto with THE PRESTIGE, and I cannot pinpoint it. The cinematography, yes, it was nominated for the Academy award but it cannot be just that. All I can say is Nolan knows his medium and knows how to exactly gel the various elements. He’s never loud; he lets the narration be the cake, but adds in fantastic score and technical aspects that just put the icing on the cake. Brilliant is the word, genius is another. I believe it should have been his name instead of Paul Greengrass, in the list of nominations this year, no offence to Paul though. He did a wonderful job with UNITED 93 but Nolan was simply way better.
The performances, well we have the second biggest assembly of pure talent after THE DEPARTED last year. There is Christian Bale, who simply cannot act badly; he’s just perfect. He’s simply put, the greatest actor of this generation by a country mile and I might say well on his way to be one of the greatest actors of all time. He is pure joy to watch and I might add, I just cannot wait for next year when Nolan and Bale team for the third time for THE DARK KNIGHT.
Hugh Jackman is one of the best lead actors around already created a helluva fan following as Wolverine. His performance is quite fantastic as well. What more could be said of Sir Michael Caine, a name that brings respectability to any project. He ups his “aye” and nonchalantly pitches in with a nice effort. Scarlett Johansson is making a habit of starring in “the other girl” roles but she is decidedly breathtaking to look at. And she lends in her hand as well. David Bowie deserves special mention as Tesla and so does Andy Serkis as his assistant Alley.
THE PRESTIGE is one of the best and most original thrillers to come out of Hollywood. It is one of the best movies I have seen last year; it could well make my top five. Comparisons with the Yari brothers’ THE ILLUSIONIST are bound to occur but I’ve not yet watched it, though it released earlier. I guess we could draw a comparison when the latter is in my kitty.Watch THE PRESTIGE, watch it with everything you have got and I guess you would not be disappointed. But remember- “Are you watching closely?”


Anonymous said...

So you finally saw THE PRESTIGE and ILLUSIONIST J…

And as I thought you would like Prestige much better than illusionist J… I agree to it J

Sachin Rehan

Perx said...

dude....always keep in mind....u r writing a review abt "the prestige" not about "the nolan brothers"