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The Prestige (2006)  

Review: written 28 May 2007

Satisfyingly intelligent period drama

It's only once in a while these days, that a mainstream movie comes along that tells a defiantly original story - and rarer still that it turns out to be intelligently delivered too. This movie manages both.

It's a movie about obsession - entirely fitting that it should be directed by Christopher Nolan, known for his exactitude. This obsession that two illusionists have for their craft and finding the ultimate illusion, leads from one twist to another as the story unravels, or more accurately unpeels, layer by layer. As the story progresses, we find ever greater depths to which the protagonists are willing to go to perfect their act.

The cast are uniformly excellent - it seems Christian Bale is becoming somewhat of an on screen alter ego for Nolan. And co-stars Scarlett Johanssen and Michael Caine acquit themselves well, the latter especially adding gravitas to proceedings.

On the technical side, the dialogue is often at low mumbling levels for key comments or interchanges, and while striking, the photography by Nolan's Batman Begins lenser Wally Pfister is on the gloomy side. These quibbles are more than made up for by a fantastic cast and inventive storytelling. If you know nothing of the story, then so much the better. Be warned, however - there is a direction the plot goes in which may jar with some audiences who are at that point involved with the mystery and period detail, and may not expect the genre turn the movie takes.

Other than that, a fine period mystery with superior acting and art direction.

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