Originally watched in 2006. Rewatched Feb 2017
Isn’t it strange how a rewatch can change your opinion of a film. I’ll admit, I haven’t thought about The Prestige in a long while, since I originally watched it probably, but spotted a dvd copy sitting around and thought, didn’t I like that film? lets watch it again. Of course, reading my review from 2006 I don’t think I really did like it, seeing as I mostly described it as “disappointing”. But I’m glad my memory was faulty because I really enjoyed my rewatch. ((and have bumped the rating from a 6 up to an 8))
On my first viewing I was more caught up in the plot and what was actually happening. The second time I wasn’t concerned with that at all, and was caught up with the characters. And I really enjoyed it.
It felt to me as though the film wasn’t trying to be clever or twisty but instead using that to explore the characters and their obsession. In fact that’s what I thought it was all about, how obsession can ruin lives. And the key sentence in it comes from Angier when he says that he doesn’t care about his wife. He only cares about Borden’s secret.
So, is it me that changed, because the film is exactly the same…
I really wanted to enjoy this film. I thought the trailer made it look intriguing, I liked the films of Nolan that I’ve already seen. And who isn’t a fan of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman? But, something, I’m not quite sure what, felt flat and dull about this film.
The plot revolves around two magicians in London at the end of the 19th century. They start the story as friends, working in the same act, but then an accident happens and they end up bitter rivals. At first they try to ruin each other’s careers and lives, but soon both get caught up in “the ultimate trick” and try to figure out how it is done.
The plot unfolds through flashbacks and the reading of diaries, both men picking through the lives of the other. We start towards the end of the story, with Borden (Bale) in prison awaiting trial for the murder of Angier (Jackman), and at the end we return to that time for the grand finale.
All the acting is top-notch, but the story is a bit of a let down, and more than a little obvious. There are twists and turns, but all are signposted and although not everything turns out exactly as you might have thought, in most cases I could see what was going to happen. Then again I suppose that is part of the film, and for the most part the rest of the film makes up for this limitation.
What I really liked about The Prestige was the fact that there were no good guys and no bad guys, no one in a white hat to cheer on. Both rivals had their reasons for acting and the audience’s sympathies do switch from one to the other.
I did like the film, but I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed in it.