Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Prestige (2006)

(Poster by Steve R Hogan)

On a bit of a Chris Nolan Binge in the wake of TDKR. He seems to have thing for main characters that are in the pursuit of an obsession: Inception's Cobb is willing to do the almost impossible to get home, Memento's Shelby battles with his amnesia to hunt down his wife's killer and The Dark Knight Trilogy's Bruce Wayne retreats into and is eventually consumed entirely by his obsession with the Batman. The Prestige, however, focusses on the idea of obsession entirely.

Two late 19th century magicians become rivals and eventually bitter enemies as their shared desire to best each tears their lives, their families and their bodies themselves apart. There exists a subtle to and fro between the two with regards to who seems the most unhinged: Christian Bale's Alfred Borden taking centre staged at first but quickly relinquishing that to Hugh Jackman's Robert Angiers. Both understand what really drives their character, what is really important to them.

Escalation is the game as the fight drags out over the years. These men give everything for their art, taking illusion, deception and secrets to their logical conclusions with predictable results. Michael Caine, as usual in his Nolan roles, provides a window for the audience to view the often cold and extreme main characters in a more human light. Without his role as Cutter, the an illusionist's engineer, it'd be all too easy to write off both Alfred and Angiers as self-destructive narcissists, which they are, but Nolan's script coupled with characters such as Cutter, and to a lesser extent Scarlett Johansson's Olivia and Rebecca Hall's Sarah, you can find yourself identifying a disturbing amount with just how obsessed these two perfectionists can be.

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