Well, what does Thanksgiving mean in our world today? It could mean pumpkin pies (made with Splenda to fool my brother), cranberry relish, giving thanks. It could mean shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Or it could mean the best movies of the year are finally coming out and it's time to hit the theatres again.
I chose the final option yesterday. It's rare that I don't see a Hugh Jackman movie, so The Prestige certainly fit the bill. It also stars other quite gifted actors - Christian Bale (I still tear up everytime I remember The Empire of the Sun), Michael Caine and Scarlett Johannson. It is set around 1900 in London. Two young magicians become rivals to the fullest over a terrible accident. Jackman portrays Angiers, the dashing showman. Bale is Borden, the lowerclass magicial genius. It is a story of how they hope to best the other, or really, to destroy the other. The movie is well-plotted, with twists and turns and all sorts of interesting facets in the story. It was a relief to see a movie that is not so dreadfully predictable. Some things were predictable, but just when we think we figured something out - something else would happen to turn things around.
The acting was superb. David Bowie even makes an appearance as a mad genius (appropriately so - and did I really think he was that hot in 1985? Lunar, did we really? Well, at least it was better than when I was soooo in LUV with scrawny Shaun Cassidy in 1980.)
Yet, something was lacking in the movie for me. It was certainly a good movie and I would recommend seeing it. As I have been thinking over it, I wondered if my inability to see this as a really great movie was my old standby criticism - a redemptive quality. Obsession does not often allow room for redemption. But that lack of redemption didn't bother me in Brokeback Mountain (still the best movie I have seen in years). I think what was lacking was an identification with the characters. They were fascinating and even sympathetic at times, especially Angiers. Yet, as the movie came to its conclusion and the final face-off with these two magicians, I was unsure for whom I should pull. Angiers seemed obvious, and his words on why he was a magician were powerful - but the words did not match the actions. Actions do speak louder than words.
It was a well done and well crafted movie. Yet, more time was spent trying to make this a clever movie than making this one where the audience was truly invested with the characters. I think that was the flaw - the reason I wasn't sure what I wanted to happen in the movie. My grade - B