The Prestige ★★★★½

An ingeniously crafted tale of twists & turns, a fascinating vignette of obsession & jealousy, and an interesting illustration of friendship & rivalry, The Prestige is a magical piece of thrilling cinema by Christopher Nolan which comes with its own set of pledge, turn & prestige moments just like any great magic trick and cleverly manages to take its ordinary premise & turn it into something truly extraordinary.

The Prestige is the story of a friendship that became a rivalry which later turned deadly. The plot concerns two renowned stage magicians in London near the end of the 19th century who engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate illusion but their increasing obsession to best each other's tricks eventually leads them on a path which culminates with devastating consequences.

Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film presents the master director in sublime form & is quite possibly the most creative work of his film career. He might have upgraded to making only big-budget blockbusters ever since but this is where Nolan's talents as a filmmaker are at its most bare. Each element is carefully processed & cleverly integrated into the picture and the final pay-off is as satisfying as it is spellbinding.

The screenplay marks the first collaboration between Nolan brothers & is deftly adapted from the novel of the same name. Art direction wonderfully brings late 19th century London & Colorado to life, Cinematography captures every moment in clear, crisp detail while also making extensive use of handheld shooting & cold colour temperatures, Editing is the film's finest aspect without a doubt while composer David Julyan chips in with a fitting score.

Coming to the performances, The Prestige features a star-studded cast in Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall & Michael Caine, and they're all pretty convincing in their given roles with Jackman & Bale impressing the most as two rival magicians. Even Caine's character plays a significant part here unlike his supporting roles in other Nolan films. And Johansson does a good enough job playing both pawn & player in the featured rivalry.

On looking back, what's even more astonishing is that everything we want to know is right in front of us. From its opening moments, the film keeps dropping obvious hints about its mystery yet successfully manages to create an illusion of hiding a big secret. And just like those people amongst the audience waiting to be amazed by an upcoming magic trick, we fail to see it because we're not really looking. Because just like them, we want to be fooled.

On an overall scale, The Prestige is one of the finest achievements in the directorial career of Christopher Nolan that intertwines its three acts of storytelling with three acts of illusion in a highly rewarding manner to deliver a cinematic experience that's magical in every sense of the word. An immensely compelling take on obsession, rivalry, secrecy, sacrifice & duality, The Prestige is that great magic trick which viewers won't soon, if ever, be able to recover from. One hundred percent recommended.

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