This has been a troubled summer movie season. Most films that have come out have been of poor quality and even typical cheesy yet guiltily fun movies like Prince of Persia have underperformed at the box office. Inception has finally come out to save the day.
What do you love the most? What do you fear the most? What are you greatest secrets? These seem to be the questions that Inception asks its viewers. No, Inception is not your typical summer blockbuster, at least not in the sense that it makes the viewer think, wonder and yes, even dream. If you haven’t already heard, the plot deals with specially skilled men and women who hack into people’s dreams to steal ideas and information from them when they are at their most vulnerable state of sleep. However, when a wealthy Japanese businessman named Saito (played by Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe) asks Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) to implant a genuine idea into another businessman’s dream, the whole world of the film turns upside down. The beginning of the film is confusing if not also a bit slow paced. So much of the film weighs on the fact that there is so much to explain about how dreams work, how one can hack into someone’s else’s mind and to what is generally going on in the story. Director Christopher Nolan seemed intent on not having a single plot hole.
Despite the fact that there is so much explanation, it can still be difficult to know what is going on. This is certainly for many, a film worth seeing multiple times. It’s not that the ideas in the film are half baked, in fact they are fully baked, it’s just that one might not know exactly what one is eating. It certainly is delicious though. There is eye candy galore. The dream sequences are gorgeously shot, particularly scenes in Paris with Dicaprio and Ellen Page when the whole city implodes and a mind bending zero-gravity fight scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt that is simply stunning. For all the hype about the dreams though I did wonder if Nolan couldn’t have made the dreams more dream-like. I commend him for not simply making the dreams the now typical Salvador Dali inspired surrealist orgies that we see so often. On the other hand, Nolan could have perhaps made the dreams more like our own dreams in the way that space does not connect in a logical way and how images bleed into each other, creating nonsense.
Nevertheless the dream-filled final 45 minutes or so are utterly superb. Nolan makes the bold assertion that the focus of this film is not its beautiful CGI, nor even its twisty-turny plot but its characters’ connections with each other. There is a motif throughout the film of little objects hidden away in little boxes where no one can find them. The ultimate point of Inception is to open up those boxes where we keep our most frightening and painful pieces of our pasts and to make peace with them so we can ultimately move on. No matter how visually stunning the final act is or how surprising it might be to some, what is most surprising is that Nolan’s climax is an emotional one, one that hinges on the growth of its characters, not on the size of its explosions.
The cast is what Hollywood dreams are made of, 2 of its actors have won Academy Awards (Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine) and 3 have been nominated (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe). DiCaprio here is especially of note. Anyone who is not convinced that he can act should see this film, Leo is at his very best here, arguably more believable than he was in The Aviator or more honest than he was in The Departed. Marion Cotillard also demands our attention and shows us that she’s been having a bright career since La Vie En Rose. By the way, anyone who was a fan of that film will enjoy the Edith Piaf reference in this film. Also great is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as DiCaprio’s partner in crime, I hope more good roles come his way. There is not a single weak spot in the cast, great performances by all!
The cinematography is hypnotic and Hans Zimmer’s score is heart-pounding and practically nerve-wracking yet miraculously doesn’t overpower the film. It’s reported that Nolan spent 10 years on the script and it certainly shows. After The Dark Knight, expectations for Christopher Nolan’s next picture were high and though he may not have topped that film in sheer exhilaration, with Inception he has created a film that demands our attentions if not also also our hearts.
Bottom Line: Go see this in the theater, your friends, family and coworkers will be talking about this one for weeks.
Watch this nice little featurette on the film and make sure to vote on the poll!