The Prestige (2006)

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA/United Kingdom, 2006.  Touchstone Pictures, Warner Bros., Newmarket Productions, Syncopy.  Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2006.  

The filmmakers have just as much fun pulling sleight-of-hand tricks on the audience as their characters do on stage in this vibrant Victorian drama that encompasses mystery and romance into its tale of rival magicians.  and  are both strong as two magicians who meet while working for a minor ham () and are parted by tragic circumstance, setting off a chain of events that see them competing for top place in the arena of London spectacle. The film actually begins with a murder trial that has Bale imprisoned for allegedly killing Jackman, though flashbacks (and flashbacks within flashbacks that thanks to Christopher Nolan’s strong direction never becoming too confusing) reveal their separate stories, including the fascinating investigation of a scientist ( as Nikola Tesla) who creates a machine that purports to perform actual magic. It’s absorbing viewing, but it isn’t as mesmerizing as it wants to be; somehow the film, which includes great supporting performances by  and , beautiful cinematography by Wally Pfister and sumptuous period detail, is never more than the sum of its parts. It is, however, a proud display of the Nolan brothers’ commitment to taking the mind on increasingly twisted journeys that began with their masterful Memento.

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