Sunday, 12 September 2010
It doesn’t take long to realise the marketing for the latest film from writer / director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) wasn’t being vague and mysterious simply to build anticipation: Inception defies easy summation in a way that’s increasingly – and refreshingly – rare.
It’s not exactly a plot you can spoil (in some ways it’s surprisingly straightforward), but learning as you go is one of the many pleasures this has to offer. Suffice then to say its set in a world where others can enter your dreams and (try to) steal your deepest secrets, but if you’re Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) your own secrets have a very real chance of getting in the way.
Despite the heavy psychological baggage and film noir / cyberpunk trappings, this turns out to be Nolan’s take on the light-hearted heist genre. Think Ocean’s 11 inside The Matrix and you’re halfway there. Some might argue that every character besides Cobb is barely two-dimensional and that much of the dialogue is raw exposition, but with a set-up this enjoyably mind-stretching it’s best to err on the side of clarity. Having a first class cast as Cobb’s back-up team (Including Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ken Watanabe) goes a long way towards fleshing out the thin characters, and the visuals are just mind-bending enough to impress without distracting from the story-telling (unlike, say, a Terry Gilliam movie, the story moves forward too quickly to allow much time to soak in surreal imagery).
The plot is a rigourously planned-out puzzle-box that’s extremely compelling – so much so that in many ways’s the film’s greatest success is the high level of post-viewing discussion it sparks. Blockbuster film-making is rarely this smart and skillful, let alone actually about anything. Utterly unmissable.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #480)