Monday, 19 July 2010
FILM REVIEW: INCEPTION
Whether or not it is the best film of the year, as some critics and public have already declared Christopher Nolan's new film, there's no denying that Inception will be the most talked about, debated and argued over in 2010. And for many years to come, especially the ending although I'm getting ahead of myself.
Essentially a heist film but with more layers than an Adriano Zumbo creation, Inception's basic premise is simple enough: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a master extractor, someone who can retrieve secrets from the deepest recesses of one's mind by entering it during a dream state. After impressing Japanese billionaire Mr Saito (Ken Watanabe) with his skills, Cobb and his team are hired to do the reverse: not extract but plant an idea. The target is the son and heir of Saito's business rival. The idea: to break up and thus destroy the rival's empire.
Like I said, simple enough. But dreams are much easier to enter if you know how they'll look, so Cobb hires a young architect (Ellen Page) to design an entire world for the team to navigate. Dreams can also be gatecrashed by other people's subconscious, apparently, and Cobb's deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), continually makes her presence felt at the most inopportune times.
The second half of Inception (it's 147 minutes total) is taken up with the mission, as Cobb and his team descend from one level of subconscious to the next – at one point the team is functioning in four different levels – in an effort to plant the idea, all the while battling their hosts subconscious security measures and Cobb's emotional demons.
Don't be upset if you don't have a complete grasp on everything that's happening. Anyone who says they do, and who isn't Christopher Nolan, is almost certainly lying. But you don't have to be a philosopher or rocket scientist to get, or get lost in, Inception.
Also, don't be perturbed if you find you're in the minority with your friends and don't like Inception. And by like I of course mean love with a passion. There are already some sections of the online film community declaring Nolan's film a masterpiece, the best film of the year and the only possible winner of this year's Best Picture Oscar.
And much like these sections of people had little time for anyone who didn't have the same opinion of Nolan's previous film, The Dark Knight – another summer blockbuster that dared to inject smarts and moral complexity into its big budget framework – they're more or less closed to any other opinion: if you don't love it you're a fool and a hater.
That is, of course, nonsense. One can admire a film without really loving or even liking it. And there is much to admire with Inception, if only from a purely technical viewpoint. Beautiful to look at, impressive imagery and a fantastic score. And the performances are uniformly good.
DiCaprio continues his run of tortured souls after Revolutionary Road and Shutter Island (an earlier 2010 film that may draw comparisons with Inception). Marion Cotillard, whom I'm continually falling for, is the film's much needed emotional core, and Ellen Page, a fine actress, makes the most of her underwritten role. Nolan's writing also suffered similarly in the two Batman films with the Rachel Dawes character, played by Katie Holmes then Maggie Gyllenhaal; proof that the director is not perfect.
But like like all art, Inception is about what you bring to it just as much as it is about what the artist (Nolan) had in mind. It can be as as deep as you want it to be. And whether that's 'The Matrix meets James Bond', in reference to the film's action filled second half, or something a little more complex and philosophical, depends entirely on the state of mind you're in when you see it. And that opinion will change, for my guess is people will see it more than once. I certainly plan to.