The Prestige (2006) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

The Prestige (2006) Directed by Christopher Nolan. With Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson. Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall and Andy Serkis.

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Are you watching closely?”, asks Christian Bale’s Alfred Borden. Based on a novel by Christopher Priest and co-adapted by the brothers Nolan, The Prestige is a film with real intellect behind it. Through tragedy, two rival magicians (Bale and Jackman) pit their wits against each other in late 19th century London.

With Nolan occupying the director’s chair, an all-star cast has become something of given. Sure enough, the film is co-headlined by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, with an array of A-list talent in supporting roles. Of course, with a Chris Nolan film, the real star of the show is the idea behind it.

Visually, the film relies on light and shadow, as Wally Pfister’s cinematography carries over many of the themes from Batman Begins. Fittingly for the period, it’s murky, with plenty of gothic beauty, which reinforces a sense of the uncanny. Perhaps the sombre tone could be alienating, for some, but away from the glossy distractions of a modern-day telling, it helps to keep the movie grounded.

The film is structured in that non-linear Nolan way, which, in a sense, is a further tool of distraction for the audience. Moreover, there are clever clues scattered throughout the film (if you look and listen very closely) which could serve to hint about what’s unfolding. Of course, it’s only on repeat viewings that we spot these things, but it reminds us of how Nolan enjoys teasing his audience, moreover, inviting us to play detective during his films.

Like any great magic trick, The Prestige keeps us guessing as our eyes search the screen for clues of what may or may not be afoot. It’s in this sense, that we’re kept alert and involved with the plot, anxious not to miss the sleight of hand, but at the same time, anxious to be wowed by it. 4.5/5

About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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13 Responses to The Prestige (2006) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Chris Evans says:

    Great review (as ever) Gareth, I’m a big Nolan fan myself and the Prestige is an alluring and captivating watch. Can’t wait to see what he does with the Dunkirk film he’s currently working on.

    • garethrhodes says:

      How exciting to know that another Nolan film is in the works. The fear was that he’d be all ‘Kubrick’ and retreat to his BatCave to take a decade to develop a new project. Thank you, my friend, it’s always great to have comments from you.

  2. jazzo44556 says:

    Definitely one of my favorite movies. Nolan really develops himself in this one.(If you ask me)

  3. dbmoviesblog says:

    This is one of my favourite movies. It makes one think about so many things, but most importantly the limits of one’s ambition. I particularly enjoyed watching Christian Bale’s duality.

  4. I was BLOWN AWAY when I first saw this film. And every time after!

  5. Great review of one of my favourite movies! I think this is probably my favourite Nolan film, too- everything just unfolds like clockwork and the twist still has impact even on repeat veiwings. A great early role for Rebecca Hall, too.

  6. This is one of my favorite Nolan films. While it’s best the first time you watch it, because nothing beats that amazing surprise ending, it’s still well worth multiple viewings because it’s a fascinating, in-depth story.

    • garethrhodes says:

      While I agree, I think repeat viewings of The Prestige are particularly revealing, which adds to the fun of re-watching it. The scene with the sobbing child, up to the scene where Christian Bale is after an invite into Rebecca Hall’s apartment – the whole trick of the film is housed in those scenes. It’s isn’t at first apparent, but upon closer inspection and thought, it’s ALL there.

  7. Jenna says:

    Wonderful review. The first time I saw The Prestige, my brother and I had rented it. We were so blown away that we started it over as soon as the credits appeared for an immediate second viewing. It really is one that gets better every time you watch it.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you Jenna, it certainly leaves a lot to chew over. I like that Chris Nolan is interested in telling stories that invite the audience to solve puzzles and think outside the normal framework of your average plot. You and your brother clearly have excellent taste. 🙂

  8. Hi, great post! I think you will enjoy my post which is on a similar note. Here’s the link: https://wordpress.com/post/imaproudindian.wordpress.com/33

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