How on earth could Nikola Tesla be combined with David Bowie? Are they both physicists? Do they both suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder? I know I can’t talk about Tesla in the present tense, but I prefer it from talking about Bowie in the past tense.
But everything just feels so right when the latter is impersonating the former in Christopher Nolan’s latest movie, The Prestige. The success of this movie is definitely not the result of luck. Nolan, a "magician" himself, appears to have estimated in advance, with mathematical precision, all the "ingredients" that would make the hungry-for-quality and satiated-from-quantity moviegoers blink their eyes with surprise -- and he spares neither baroque script, sedulous montage, nor the gathering of acting (or eye-candy-cream) from the foot of Hollywood (because being Nolan means both a preservation of the status quo and an amplification of the alternative style).
Hugh Jackman found the guidance that he had missed, Christian Bale’s acting is becoming more firm (resembling Edward Norton more and more), Michael Caine is delivering free acting classes and the talented Mr. post-Ziggy Bowie is transferring the sci-fi element in the ill-matched Victorian era in his depiction of the unrecognized Nikola Tesla and his genius. In the film, which is mostly the narration of the rivalry of Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, female presence is somewhat faded -- Scarlett Johansson verifies the title of the sexiest woman under 5’4’’.
Nolan insists on that broken-into-pieces-narrative (a la Memento) with many FWDs and REWs, although in a more moderate way than in his 2000 breakthrough. But that is exactly what makes The Prestige a film that someone wants to see again and again. A few of the script cases are not so valid under critical consideration (even if we accept the sci-fi element of this movie) and it is almost certain that no one who’ll watch that movie will have compassion for one of the two heroes -- and she will not cry for the loss of either of them. But let’s not be so damn extravagant -- let’s just applaud one of 2006's best films.
If you missed this one last year, make sure you catch it at the New Jersey Film Festival for the next three days:
The Prestige is being screened Friday (2.2), Saturday (2.3), and Sunday (2.4) at 7 pm, in Scott Hall (43 College Ave.) on Rutgers' New Brunswick campus.
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