DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
STARRING: LEONARDO DiCAPRIO, JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, ELLEN PAGE, KEN WATANABE, CILLIAN MUPRHY, MARION COTILLARD, TOM BERENGER AND MICHAEL CAINE
148 minutes into it and I realized ‘Inception’ was exactly what it is: A strenuous piece of cinema that tires one out with even the most gripping of sequences. The intersection of layers, however, assures a certain justification and once again, you’re reminded that you need all the time in the world to not just make sense, but to entirely be imbibed into a Nolan film; a residence in the world he constructs. This inception, on his part, of the idea that you simply cannot stay inside the film unless you tip yourself headfirst in to it, and that sitting it out would only cause you to smirk at the intentional coaxing of his intelligence into your head makes you ask yourself in the end “How impressed was it anyway?” But I do not think ‘Inception’ is intended to be a sequel in his ‘Are you watching closely?’ series, although there is a desperation to incept the fact that you are indeed witnessing a sample of aesthetic brilliance that is not so uncharacteristic of Nolan.
I don’t imply a shortcoming, though, but definitely a faith in a stereotype in the mould of his non-caped films and in that way ‘Inception’ is more of a summary of previous works, a development that took him all these years and not just the six months he spent to write it. The upside to it is that he happens to be writing a Nolan film, which almost always holds a justification of itself in itself. But there are certain regulatory conditions that he has imposed on himself this time around. On the one hand, there is the heist and the crew that he puts together for it. On the other, we have an emotional turmoil that is to define the film. This emphasis hinges more on the director’s independent days of ‘Memento’ and the frosty ‘Insomnia’, where the dull moments are clearly those who actually add spark to the film and not otherwise. Cobb takes his time with himself (in a wife metaphor) not because it is personally essential (which it is, of course) but more because that is what constitutes the film, the heist almost proving to be irrelevant in the later stages: just the means, not the end. The deuce is only obvious, but is it delightful? I’m going to have to say no, I actually found it slightly unconvincing; somewhat forced. A novel incursion that is still in pulp.
Here is a film that speaks of labyrinths but surprisingly isn’t one. Characters lack depth except for the one that’s stressed upon, the layering is writer-out and, again, obvious and the whole thing is clockwork with a little winding up being all that’s required, something that’s achieved through extensive cross-cutting (a specialty of Nolan’s) and an overused background score that strangely fails to impress, maybe because there’s no ‘Dark Knight’ for it to hide behind and reinforce. Long sequences tired me out and I sat waiting for the thrill to mount, only to realize that that’s deception. And the inception is the means, a shot to compel the viewer that this is a visually intense, hectic and painfully striking vision of a film, except that it’s not. But that doesn’t mean ‘Inception’ doesn’t have the usual promise, I see I have said it already! It is ‘usual’, the typical Nolan venture that secures itself against itself, which majorly adds to its strength. You are not to question why the dreams are how they are, why there is a quasi-awakened state, and why there’s almost always an attached gloom, a total depression. Nolan plays by rules this time, but not in a constrained way for the rules are his, and what you’re in for is not a foundation course. It’s just a handbook that you get thrown-in.
Setting aside the fact that I anticipated more of dream-reality shifts (as the initial sequence promises) than what I got, ‘Inception’ is still a film that is very characteristic of and very faithful to the mind of Nolan, and what could be called a personal tribute to himself that’s awkwardly underdone.