Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Ricky Jay, Roger Rees, W. Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Davis
In 1878, two young stage magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), clash in a darkened salon during the course of a fraudulent seance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and exposure, secrets and revelations, as they feud to outwit and destroy one another. Their rivalry takes them both to the peak of their careers, but with terrible consequences.
Besides this, I've only seen other two Nolan's films - Memento and Inception -, and the thing that amazed me the most is their ability to hypnotize the audience.
Although at first I wasn't much into it, The Prestige turned out to be a complex, engaging, thrilling mind-blowing film, as well as an excellent portrait of obsession and competition of magicians.
Though adapted from Christopher Priest's novel 'The Prestige', the story is a perfect fit for Nolan's direction, as the increasing engagement and twists keeps you wondering like Memento did. Also, he succeeded in having a dream cast.
The narrative structure of the film is very interesting. Nonlinear, the film starts from the end, and builds the story through flashbacks and flashforwards, showing the same episodes from the point of view of both the main characters.
Also, part of the story has a historical confirmation. In fact, besides the invention of a machine capable of teleporting or duplicate matter, the several references to the studies of Nikola Tesla and his rivalry with Thomas Edison are accurate.
The cinematography by Wally Pfister and the scenography by Nathan Crowley and Julie Ochipinti are outstanding, giving the film a magical and mysterious setting.
Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier, Christian Bale as Alfred Borden, and Michael Caine as stage engineer John Cutter all give charismatic, emotional, stunning performances. Rebecca Hall, who plays Borden's wife, provides a great performance. Scarlett Johansson, once again in the mistress's shoes, performs badly. Mention worthy is David Bowie's performance as Nikola Tesla, which despite the small screen time, proves to be a better actor than most of Hollywood's people.
Cutter: Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".
Cutter: Now you're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.