Saturday, 17 July 2010

Inception


It is rare indeed that I watch a film on opening night. But I knew from the first moments of its trailer that I wanted to see Inception and to see it while I still knew almost nothing about it. I didn’t even know that two of my favorite actresses (Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page) starred in the film. So I decided I should go before people around me started talking about it. Probably a wise move, though it’s not like anything someone said about the film would be that revealing. It’s just that the WOW factor might have been affected (I’m not going to give much of the plot away, but if you want to know as little as possible, stop reading now and go watch the film).

You all know how important the WOW factor is for me. This is a WOW film and it gets **** just for wowing me and for its originality and for being a science fiction film when I was not expecting one (I had heard no mention of science fiction).

Dreams are mysterious things. On the day I watched Inception, I awoke from a long intricate dream only to glance at the clock and realize I had slept no more than seven minutes since the last time I glanced at the clock. Hours later I am watching a film where the concept behind this realization plays a key role.

Often forgotten instantly upon waking, dreams can sometimes haunt you all day long. Or they can make you wonder whether the dream is more real than the so-called real world, especially if they are recurring dreams. And then there are the Jungian dream interpretations. What exactly are our brains up to when they dream? Does our subconscious help us develop and defend ideas which guide our real lives? Does guilt haunt our dreams? How do we let go of memories when they are deeply entrenched in our subconscious and played out in dreams again and again?

Inception plays with these questions in a brilliantly-devised plot which I do not claim to understand. Perhaps a second viewing would help, but the film seems to have a huge number of holes (not flaws, but holes), from the lack of background information on the ‘science’ and on the characters to the unexplainable and largely unexplained things that happen time and again. More than once I wondered whether what I was watching made sense. And sometimes I felt as if important pieces of the film were left on the cutting room floor because the film was so long already. Ah well, I give it four stars anyway.

Then there’s the action. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a film with so much action in it (and some rather violent action at that). I won’t say I enjoyed the action, but I wasn’t bored by it (as I usually am) and that’s a significant achievement. And what about the violence? Do I find movie violence less offensive if it happens in a dream? I suppose I do, though it’s not as if movie violence is ever real, so this requires more thought.

Leonardo DiCaprio comes through again with an excellent performance as the protagonist. Maybe one day I’ll have to become a fan. One rather eerie coincidence is the resemblance between Inception and DiCaprio’s last film, Shutter Island.

Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed Inception, also came through again, creating an intriguing, baffling and intelligent wow film, as he did before with Memento, which also got four stars.

My review feels like a collection of ramblings about a film that defies description. Maybe I’m still dizzy. Inception is an overwhelming thrill ride that you’ll want to ride again before you leave the amusement park. So I expect it will be a huge hit. Maybe it will convince Hollywood that people are not just looking for brainless action or comedy sequels/remakes, but also looking for something new. **** My mug is held high, even if I’m not sure what’s inside.

2 comments:

  1. Well, I'm glad to be writing this after your additional remarks on Nolan and your second viewing of Inception. Yes, it was fun ride and I was glad to see it in a theatre. However, I doubt the film is worthy of its current popularity as there is nothing especially great about it. It's intricate and twisty plot is fascinating but so are dozens of such movies (personally I thought the twists in Shutter Island better). The James Bond style action was distracting and entirely unnecessary (may I add, silly - learned defenses against extraction, really?). Yes, it is thought-provoking about dreams but as you say in your post on Nolan, it doesn't really offer any insight. They completely gloss over the huge hole which is that no explanation is offered for the biggest hurdle of believability which is how two (or more) dreamers link up. This is the big question (not sedatives, or dreams within dreams, or holds on reality). So, in the end, I call it light, intriguing fun - but little more. (And for a more specific complaint - they should have developed Ariadne more with the time they saved by eliminating James Bond stuff.)

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  2. I guess I liked Inception more than you did, but I completely agree about the James Bond action and developing Ariadne more. I wasn't so worried about linking up the dreamers. Sure, it's not believable, but one has to assume that someone in the future figured out how to do it.

    I do need to say that on the same day I posted my comments on Nolan, I had a long discussion with someone about how our minds process new ideas and where they originate, based on this film. So while the film may not have supplied much insight, it at least generated some intriguing questions.

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