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The Prestige

The prestige. The turn. The pledge. Those are the parts of a magic trick---in reverse.

And that is how director Christopher Nolan tells this story. In reverse. Well, not exactly in reverse, but definitely not in a linear fashion. This is of course Nolan's style, from Memento to Batman Begins, and he has become very good at it.

Adapted from the novel by Christopher Priest, this film follows the struggle of two of the top magicians in Victorian England. You have two great actors pitted against one another, Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier against Christian Bale as Alfred Borden, and the characterization is so effective that sometimes you don't know who to root for. But I of course rooted for Mr. Bale all the way.

The supporting actors are equally important, with Michael Caine as the "ingenieur" (such a sexy-sounding French word), once again reunited with Bale and Nolan after Batman Begins. Incidentally, the film has the same dark look from Batman Begins because even the cinematographer is back on Nolan's team. Andy Serkis is as un-Gollum like as ever, while David Bowie as Tesla all but steals the show away.

Of course, the ladies do a good job as well, with Piper Perabo's short screen time as Angier's wife, and Scarlett Johansson as the assistant Olivia. But the best female performance for me came from Rebecca Hall, who played Mrs. Borden. Her transformation throughout the film is very effective, and is so realistic that the audience may take it for granted.

And finally, just like a great magic trick, Christopher Nolan pulls a fast one. The storytelling is in itself a magic trick. There's the plot twist, then the other plot twist, and you go, "Wow." I remember watching this film in the theater when it came out. At first I wanted to see it because of Christian Bale, but after leaving the theater, I felt---how do you put it---entertained. This is genuine entertainment, and worth every cent you paid for. Just like a real magic trick.

Rating: Five stars.

See also: The Acting Hall of Fame.


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