Snap Judgement: Movies

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Taking off from Christopher Priest's novel, Nolan and his screenwriting brother, Jonathan, have whipped up a dark, tricky, tale of two rival magicians in turn-of-the-20th-century London. Hugh Jackman's upper-class Angier and Christian Bale's working-class Borden are obsessives who will go to any length to outshine the other. Part of the fun is learning the tricks of the illusionist's trade. The ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson plays Jackman's assistant, spy and lover, Michael Caine his designer of illusions. The beguiling Rebecca Hall is Bale's wife, and a sly David Bowie plays the inventor Nikola Tesla. This cerebral thriller is a sleight-of-hand act itself: it proceeds by misdirection, and culminates in triple-whammy twists.