I will preface my review of Inception with this, Christopher Nolan is my favorite director and I have been looking forward to this movie for a while. That said, I will try and be unbiased in my thoughts. But of course, I will do that imperfectly.
I first saw Momento (Director Christopher Nolan‘s first feature film) in eighth grade. I had heard the buzz surrounding the film, and thought I would check it out. This was about the time in my life when I was learning that a “good” movie wasn’t just a big budget blockbuster with tons of special effects, but a film that made you think about life, one that takes its characters on a journey of redemption or at least uses them to make a comment about our world. I remember sitting, watching the film with my parents, completely absorbed in the story, how it was being told, all of it. Each of his succeeding films has been a similar experience for me. And each of Nolan’s films has transported me back to that same wonder, no matter how different the films are.
Inception is no different. I went and saw it at midnight Thursday night (Friday morning, depending on how you like to look at things). My expectations were very high because of all the hype, both self and media created. Then it began. I found myself completely involved in the story, wondering where it was going, and at each turn I was surprised at the doors of possibilities it would open, even until the final shot (if you have not seen it, I won’t ruin it for you).
In every aspect of the film, Nolan exhibits his tight, yet unique storytelling. The editing, the music, the performances, the visual effects, all of it transports you into his story of a world where dreams can be shared. I could try and summarize the plot, but I think Roger Ebert said it best:
“The story can either be told in a few sentences, or not told at all. Here is a movie immune to spoilers: If you knew how it ended, that would tell you nothing unless you knew how it got there. And telling you how it got there would produce bafflement.”
In a summer of terrible movies and unoriginal ideas, Inception is the golden ticket. It has everything a good movie should, and more. And we are not talking about big budget blockbuster good movie, although it has all the visual effects and action you could ask for. It also has heart, and something to say about the world. What exactly that is, Nolan leaves wide open for interpretation.
Is it a perfect film? No. There are of course loopholes, as there always are in any movie that has a plot as complicated as Inception‘s, but Nolan does a great job of making the journey of the characters always at the center of the story, as is his custom. He of course uses the characters to exposit a lot of the information as the film goes a long, but these explanations never derail the plot, and never allow the viewer to lose focus of the objective. I do wish that Nolan would learn someday to slow the pace, give the story some pause, and the audience a chance to catch their breath (this is also my only complaint about his biggest success, The Dark Knight), but alas there is an end to this story, and Nolan is determined to get you there. That is the only negative thing I have to say about it.
I do want to talk a bit about Marion Cotillard‘s performance. Nolan’s films tend to under utilize the female characters. They serve their purpose in the story, but the meatier roles are left to the men. Coltillard breaks that mold in my opinion. I cannot comment much on the nature of her character, for fear of spoiling the film, except to say that she was able to make me love and hate, fear and sympathize with her character all at the same time. Definitely the standout in the film to me, and with a cast that has Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Michael Caine (to name a few) that is saying something.
I am eager to see Inception again. Nolan’s films are always deeper, more thought provoking to me on a second watch, when the wonder has faded and the dissection of, “what did he really mean by that?” can begin.