So I Saw Inception Last Night

I was fortunate enough to have a press pass to see a screening of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Inception.  I now consider myself to be amongst the lucky few who have seen this movie and urge everyone reading this to drop all weekend plans in order to see it as soon as possible.  A dreary Friday is worth it so you can see a midnight showing on Thursday.  The film is just. that. good.

I'm not sure why Tom Hardy and Ken Watanabe are missing from this photo. They provide much more meat than either Caine or Murphy.

It’s a heady film, and one that I fear may soar over the heads of many audience members.  There are complex plot points involving multiple layers of dreams and the concept that one could actually implant an idea in another person’s subconscious. If you thought The Matrix was confusing, this film will certainly leave you flabbergasted.  I couldn’t agree more with Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly

“Beware the critic who claims the ability to analyze Inception authoritatively after one viewing. As engrossing and logic-resistant as the state of dreaming it seeks to replicate, Christopher Nolan’s audacious new creation demands further study to fully absorb the multiple, simultaneous stories Nolan finagles into one narrative experience.”

The main character of Dom Cobb – portrayed brilliantly with the characteristic restrained pain of DiCaprio – leads a group of ingenious thieves in the business of corporate espionage who actually invade and construct the dreams of their victims.  His team consists of a right hand man (Joseph Gordon Levitt), an architect to construct the dreams (Ellen Page), and a “forger” (Tom Hardy) – a team member who can portray other people within the dream.  Dom needs these people to help him in the most daring and complex con of his life – the One Last Job that has become so textbook in films like this.  Instead of stealing trade secrets or ideas from rivals, he sets out to plant an idea in the mind of Cillian Murphy’s Robert Fischer.  His name suggests, as Schwarzbaum points out, that we are in for quite the game of chess.  The movie frequently skips between several different realities and, to be sure, has an ending that leaves the audience wanting more.

It is, in a word, mesmerizing.

My only gripe really is that the emotional connection to the plot is severely lacking.  We are intellectually stimulated and enraptured throughout most of the film – and especially the second half.  However, the believability of the emotional motivations is simply not as strong.  Marion Cotillard plays Dom’s wife Mal – you know, Latin for “evil” (every character’s name is layered, just like the dreamscapes they create).  I won’t reveal any twists involving her character, but it is certainly safe to say that the motivations for Dom are a tad cliché; the way they all play out is not.  To be honest, it really comes down to this sense of innovation.  Yes, the emotional structure is bare-bone and tired, but the mental structure is so captivating, is so enthralling, that I am eager to dismiss this shortcoming.  The last hour of the movie is incredibly complicated and, at the same time, insanely compelling (Nolan has constructed a truly mind-bending scene with a hotel hallway fight that will leave you breathless).

In short, I want to see this film again, and as soon as possible.  This is the kind of movie that leaves you seeing the world in a different way once you step out of the theater.  Only the truly great films can aspire to be this transcendent; Nolan should be proud that so many of his pieces can accomplish this.

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