INCEPTION poster Leonardo Dicaprio

Rating: 4 of 5 ★★★★☆ 

There’s really no way to talk about this movie without spoilers. If you haven’t seen it yet though, you’re one of the few but I felt the need to be clear on that anyway.

I sat around yesterday trying to figure Inception out, trying to write some sort of coherent review, trying to make sense of something that appeared not only to be a conondrum, but an intentional labrynth.

But it’s a Chris Nolan movie, so I wasn’t surprised. Having made sense of it, I think Inception is an incredibly smart, elegant film that is very interesting and very, very cool.

Brilliantly and artfully written.
So well directed you don’t think about it or notice.
Exceptional performances from very good actors (I was surprised by Joseph Gordon-Levitt who I think is fairly talented but I generally dislike on principle).
A fascinating, original story that of course is very smart and kinda twisted because it’s Chris Nolan.
Generally well formed and definitely interesting characters.
and yet flawed.

Because for all it’s brilliance and intellect I wasn’t emotionally involved at all. I didn’t experience Cobb and Mal’s love enough to be on their side, to fall in love with them, to believe in their love or that it was powerful enough to haunt his subconcious like that. I didn’t feel much of anything; not anxiety when they might fall into limbo, not fasciantion as the depth of Cobb’s character and history was revealed, not sympathy for him, not his guilt for Mal’s madness, nor why Cobb would so willingly open up to Adriadne when he’s kept himself hidden from Arthur for however long. I saw it all, but I didn’t feel it.

And a little predictable. I mean, layered and complicated, but I still consistently realized everything at some point before it was revealed.

Aside from the cinematic technicalities, however, Inception is a story that is begging to be unraveled and questioned. Because the one thing I did feel at the very end was disturbed.

Cobb was given his happy ending, everyone woke up safe and alive and fulfilled. Even Fisher was given an incredible gift of reconcilliation with his father and peace. and that spinning top seemed to take all of that away by implying that Cobb was still in a dream. But I don’t think it did at all. I think it was actually a powerful, almost creative force and not a destructive one.

Rule #1 the top spins and when if falls down you’re in reality. If it keeps spinning you’re in a dream.
The film has carefully explained every rule about dreams so when the top keeps spinning at the end, the questions begin.

Is Cobb still in a dream? Did he simply never wake up from limbo at the end? So, what happened to everyone else? Did they wake up? Do we get any closure for their stories? Or did we ever see Cobb in reality? Then, how could the top have fallen down all those times before if that was a dream also? But could Mal have been right in limbo when she questions what we thought to be reality before? When she said the multinational corporations were chasing him like projections? If so, who has thrown him into this dream? What do they want from him? Was Adriadne, then, an extractor and not an architect since she continually drew information out of him? Or what do they want to make him believe? Was this the biggest Mr. Charles ever, with those we believed to be his friends actually leading him through this; getting him to run from his own subconcious? To what end? And, then, whose dream is it?

Because no matter how many layers of dreams you think there are in this film, I think there’s always one more. It’s Chris Nolan’s dream.

The final spinning top in the end isn’t about Cobb still being in a dream within the story, it’s telling us that the dream he’s still within is the film itself. That Inception is a shared dream we’ve entered into with Chris Nolan and wake from but never, within the film-dream, touch on reality.

and the rules of film (not just this film but film as a medium) are the same as the rules of the dream
The one exception being that when we’re dreaming we’re creating our world while we simultaneously experience it. That’s very interesting about dreams, but wholly untrue about films. Still….

Time flows differently.
You don’t know how you to got there because movies always begin in the middle of something.
Paradox can exist, can be manipulated within both.
It’s only when you wake up that you notice anything was strange

It’s a very cool idea and makes the film that much smarter and more elegant and interesting.

But you can’t accept the story as a metaphor for film without also hearing the warning within it. That if you artificially dream too often you lose your ability to actually dream.

And it has to be a remarkably good film because even knowing all of this, even not really feeling anything, it’s still a fun and fascinating movie.

You musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling

Variety Inception Review
I totally agree with pretty much everything in this review and it’s well written.


If movies are shared dreams, then Christopher Nolan is surely one of Hollywood’s most inventive dreamers, given the evidence of his commandingly clever “Inception.” Applying a vivid sense of procedural detail to a fiendishly intricate yarn set in the labyrinth of the subconscious, the writer-director has devised a heist thriller for surrealists that challenges viewers to sift through multiple layers of (un)reality. As such, it’s a conceptual tour de force, though Leonardo DiCaprio should still position it as one of the summer’s hottest, classiest tickets.

As a non-franchise follow-up to the enormous success of “The Dark Knight,” this long-gestating project reps something of a gamble for Warner Bros. at a time when sophisticated original entertainments are neither as common nor as bankable as they once were. Availing himself of the resources that come with a studio’s confidence, Nolan places mind-bending visual effects and a top-flight cast in service of a boldly cerebral vision that demands, and rewards, the utmost attention. Even when its ambition occasionally outstrips its execution, “Inception” tosses off more ideas and fires on more cylinders than most blockbusters would have the nerve to attempt.

Our guide to this world of high-stakes corporate espionage is Dom Cobb (DiCaprio), an “extractor” paid to invade the dreams of various titans of industry and steal their top-secret ideas. Cobb plunders the psyche with practiced skill, though he’s increasingly haunted by the memory of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who has a nasty habit of showing up in his subconscious and wreaking havoc on his missions.

That’s what happens during a dream-raid on wealthy businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe), who is in fact merely auditioning Cobb for a far riskier job. The target is Saito’s future rival, billionaire heir Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), and the goal is not to steal an idea but to plant one — the “inception” of the title — that will lead to the dissolution of Fischer’s empire.

In Nolan’s hands, this ingenious conceit becomes no more implausible than that of a caped crimefighter, as the writer-director grounds his flight of fancy with precise methodology and an architect’s attention to detail. Indeed, Cobb retains an actual architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), and teaches her how to mentally construct every street, building and room in the artificial world (essential if the dreamer is to be deceived) in a series of visually playful scenes whose trompe l’oeil quality brings Magritte and M.C. Escher to mind.

In classic heist-movie tradition, various brainiac specialists round out Cobb’s dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), his longtime organizer; Eames (Tom Hardy), a “forger” who can shapeshift at will; and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), who supplies the powerful sedative that pulls Fischer and Cobb’s gang into a collective stupor.

As the motley crew comes together, so does our understanding of this strange, mercurial world (which owes something to the virtual-reality dystopia of “The Matrix”) and the rules by which it operates: the consequences of dying in a dream; the nature of dream time vs. real time; and the perils of layering ever more elaborate dreams within dreams. Numerous laws and paradoxes come into play once Cobb and Co. plunge down the rabbit-hole, at which point “Inception” takes on dizzying levels of complexity as the characters navigate the chambers and antechambers of Fischer’s mind.

It’s heady, brain-tickling stuff, and like the spinning top that serves as a key plot device, it seems forever on the brink of toppling over, especially toward the end of the nearly 2 1/2-hour running time. The sheer outlandishness of the premise may open it up to some narrative nitpicking and attentive viewers will have a grand time “aha!”-ing at certain points and poking holes in others.

But even when questions arise, one so completely senses a guiding intelligence at the helm that the effect is stimulating rather than confusing. Never one to strand the viewer in a maze, Nolan remains a few steps ahead, keeping total comprehension just out of reach but always in view; like a mechanical rabbit on a racetrack, he encourages us to keep up. As dreams go, “Inception” is exceptionally lucid…

Like Nolan’s 2001 indie breakthrough, “Memento,” the film toys with themes such as the blurry line between perception and reality, the insidious nature of ideas, and the human capacity for self-delusion; significantly, it also focuses on an antihero captive to the memory of his dead wife. Because the picture privileges the mind over the heart, Cobb’s unresolved guilt, intended as the story’s tragic center, doesn’t resonate as powerfully as it should, though the actors certainly give it their all: Cotillard is a presence both sultry and menacing, and DiCaprio anchors the film confidently, if less forcefully than he did the recent “Shutter Island”.

Supporting roles are thinly written but memorably inhabited: Gordon-Levitt cuts a dashing figure; Hardy tears into his smartass supporting role with lip-smacking gusto; Watanabe brings elegance and gravity to his corporate raider; and Murphy plays the unsuspecting dreamer with poignant reserve. Page’s repartee with DiCaprio could have been sharper in places, but the appealingly plucky actress makes Ariadne an ideal stand-in for the viewer.

Shot across four continents by Nolan’s regular d.p., Wally Pfister, and outfitted by production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas, “Inception” is easily the director’s most visually unbridled work; its canvas stretches from the skyscrapers of Tokyo to the bazaars of Tangiers, from an amber-lit hotel corridor to a snowy mountain compound. Pic has arresting effects and images to spare, such as the sight of Paris folding in on itself like a book or Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur performing a fight scene in zero gravity (the explanation for which is even more dazzling).

Hans Zimmer’s surging score trumpets danger and excitement with near-operatic fervor, at times suggesting the world’s most portentous foghorn, while Edith Piaf’s recording of “Non, je ne regrette rien” serves as an ironic motif.

If “Inception” is a metaphysical puzzle, it’s also a metaphorical one: It’s hard not to draw connections between Cobb’s dream-weaving and Nolan’s filmmaking — an activity devoted to constructing a simulacrum of reality, intended to seduce us, mess with our heads and leave a lasting impression. Mission accomplished.


July 18, 2010 | Review , , , | this post contains affiliate links