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Inception Review

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Christopher Nolan has made a career out of constructing genre-defying, non-linear narratives that stem from a simple idea, often involved with the mind; short-term memory loss in Memento; the lack of sleep in Insomnia’s case; magic trickery in The Prestige’s. Creating a world that switches timeframes is something Christopher Nolan enjoys to do, which has been example since his 1998 feature-length debut Following. Extending his talents to creating his own Gotham city for the reinvention of the Batman franchise (Batman Begins and The Dark Knight respectively) meant that Nolan went big budget – yet throughout his high octane charge, he retained the complexity that sets him aside from the rest. Inception is a blend of Memento’s ingenuity and The Dark Knight’s action… amped up to the maximum.

To give away the plot of Inception would be to detract from half the fun; enter the cinema knowing as little as possible. It is important to note that it is not an easy watch, yet it is not a difficult one either. It is mesmerizing and will most definitely take multiple views to fully grasp. That’s not to say that you won’t appreciate Inception on first view. If you enter the film’s world – be it real or dream – it is potentially, depending on where the characters are and which characters are present – extremely exciting, tense… at times, terrifying. Don’t know what I’m talking about? You will. Immersing yourself is a rewarding experience that will ease the complexity the storyline can’t help but offer. Think of three versions of Memento taking place simultaneously (which isn’t far off the mark); as you can imagine, there’s no room for toilet breaks here.

Cobb: Dreams feel real when we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was strange.

Christopher Nolan – who takes sole writing credit here, as well as director – has managed to craft a perfect depiction of dream worlds, which exist in his own landscape. It is clear that this is a story close to his heart and one that he has branched out over many years (when pitched to the studio, he believed the script would only take 6 months to write; in truth, it took him 8 years). This is Nolan’s universe and it is to his credit that he pulls the plot’s several strands into one cohesive whole by the film’s climax - not only into a whole that makes sense, but one that satisfies also: an almost impossible task for any filmmaker. Not to lay all of the credit on his shoulders, it should be noted that this is as much the cast’s film as it is the directors. Ellen Page sparkles as Ariadne, a role that doesn’t offer a lot; her dialogue is limited to exposition present to enable the audience to understand what the hell is going on, but yet it never explicitly feels this way (which indirectly praises back Nolan’s original screenplay). Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to establish himself as a strong talent as Arthur, who shares a few comedic moments with Eames, portrayed by an equally impressive Tom Hardy. The remainder of the cast – a memorable Marion De Cotillard, and now Nolan stalwarts Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy, the latter who provides an unexpectedly touching performance – are all fine and help make the film what it is in their own way. But this is Leonardo DiCaprio’s for the taking who further solidifies why he's one of the most talented there is. The emotion at the centre of Nolan’s script is the fuel that keeps this fire burning and without DiCaprio’s anguish and drive, the film would have very much suffered. Dom Cobb has a history that needs to be explored, and Leo is the guy to guide us through these multi-layered worlds where a freight train could burst through the streets at any given time.

The idea of dreams and planting or extracting thoughts from people through the medium of sleep is one that has interested Christopher Nolan for a long time. His interest in the mind has turned out to be an infectious one and this is achieved through his honed technique of shedding his plot in a ‘normal’ light. He makes the unimaginable imaginable; inconceivable conceivable. By balancing intellect alongside spectacle in a summer blockbuster is a genius way of providing something for everyone. Nolan fans will be as equally impressed as fans of gunshots and car chases. Although the film won’t be to everyone’s tastes (lose focus for more than a minute and you’ll be in trouble) it is certain that everyone shall appreciate the genius that has gone into crafting Inception and will marvel at the world that has been constructed. Inception is no doubt an impossibly audacious film and one that engrosses from start to end. In a summer of remakes, sequels and reinventions, Inception is the breath of fresh air that rarely comes around; a breath of fresh air that screams out ‘modern classic’. Visually breathtaking (two words: zero gravity) and intensely clever, Inception delivers consistently on every level there is… and I for one am not surprised.


Upon exploring Nolan’s universe where anything is possible, you will leave the cinema wondering in many ways if you are dreaming or not. Spectacular, breathtaking and plenty of room for theorizing, Inception is the ultimate lucid dream. Christopher Nolan really is the filmmaker of our generation: roll on Batman 3.

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