The Prestige: No Happy Endings Here

My girlfriend thought that Drunk Jackman was a different actor.

REPPED: A bit of hyperbole here, but Borden is undoubtedly Bale’s best performance. Bale’s reputation as a method actor is well-documented and while he’s never been a bad actor, the method acting usually seems to overshadow the actual performances he gives. With The Prestige, however, there’s no prosthetics or weight change; this is simply Bale delivering a straightforward performance. In The Prestige, Bale’s Borden is subtle and reserved which is a great contrast to Jackman’s Angier who has a natural charisma and showmanship. On first viewing, you might label this as “Boring Bale,” but upon future viewings, there’s so much going on with this performance that you’d only notice upon a second viewing. Borden can be unlikable in one scene but can be charming and sympathetic in another and Bale never takes it to either extreme. A character as nuanced and complicated as Borden deserves to be in the Nolan Hall of Fame!

NEGGED: What negative can I give to one of my all-time favorite films? I have no idea, but if we want to reach here, I’d say Scarlett Johansson’s performance is lacking. In fact, the two females in the movie (Johansson and Rebecca Hall) are simply props for Bale and Jackman. Of the two, Rebecca Hall is the one who gives the stronger performance. She’s the emotional center for Christian Bale’s character, but she’s nothing more than the longsuffering housewife. It’s consistent with other Nolan films to have weak female leads but Johansson might be the most out of place. Her accent is distracting and she’s propped up to be the object of affection for both protagonists but she walks out of the film without leaving much of an impression.

FINAL VERDICT: The Prestige is a tragedy about the dark side of ambition and obsession. There’s a clear protagonist and antagonist in The Prestige but Bale and Jackman are so obsessed with beating the other that they destroy the lives of those around them and it ultimately leaves you conflicted on whether either one is truly the hero or villain. This is the middle ground where Nolan is starting to play around with higher concepts but unlike his proceeding films, the characters are the draw and not the concept itself. Nolan’s greatest magic trick is revealing his trick from the start, but like Angier, we refuse to accept it because of how simple and obvious it is and once the revelation comes, you’re left just as surprised as Angier with how the trick was in front of you all along. Nolan’s pedigree continues to grow from here on out, but The Prestige still manages to be his ultimate masterpiece.

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