Friday, November 10, 2006
The Prestige
In which V has seen the Movie Of The Year, for reals.

So, Codename Mom got a couple of movie passes for her birthday and asked me if I could recommend anything good. I showed her some trailers online, and she elected to see The Prestige. We had a lovely day of shopping and a pizza lunch, and then saw the film. Codename Mom is now asserting that The Prestige is the best film she's seen in years, and possibly one of the best films she's seen in her entire life.

These are big words, people. Codename Mom enjoys The Godfather, The Graduate, nearly anything directed by Stanley Kubrick, and the entire filmography of Katharine Hepburn. When it comes to films, Codename Mom knows what she's talking about (and Codename Mom's influence was partly what drove me to study film myself). So if The Prestige is one of the best films she's seen in her entire life, y'all had better pay attention.

She's not exaggerating. This really was a stellar film. Unfortunately, I can't tell you very much about it. You've got these two magicians who are just starting out. They're working together, learning the ropes. What you the audience needs to know is summed up in the following quote from the film:
Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before.

Codename Mom and I gradually came to realize that the film itself was one elaborate magic trick following those same three acts. You're shown a story that at first you assume is ordinary. You take the characters at face value. About halfway through, you realize The Turn has taken place, and things become seriously intriguing and mysterious. And y'all, when the third act - The Prestige - hit, you could hear a pin drop in the cinema. I was literally breathless. When you finally realize what's going on, what's really going on, it's like the rug has been yanked out from under your feet.

The most I can tell you is, you have those two magicians (incredibly good acting from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale). They start out as colleagues, but something tragic happens and they become rivals. Christian Bale seems to have an almost supernatural ability when it comes to elaborate tricks. Hugh Jackman becomes obsessed with learning his secrets. One of them is evil. And I mean EVIL in all capital letters.

There isn't anything else I can say at all without spoiling the film for you. Part of the experience is being swept up in the illusion. I will say that the cast is Total Quality. Aside from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, you've got Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, and David Bowie as a very sinister Nikola Tesla (yes, that Tesla). Codename Mom was gleeful about the whole David Bowie thing, so bonus points for that.

Here's the trailer, for anyone who hasn't seen it. I haven't seen very much publicity for this film at all, which is surprising.