Inception – a Film review

What a mindbending movie! Often walking a razor’s edge between the fascinating and utter nonsense, Inception nevertheless is one of the most compelling movies I have ever seen. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) once again successfully plays with notions of reality and perception in an intelligent way and expects the audience to keep up. How refreshing is that? A movie that makes you think?

Our protagonist  (“hero” may be too strong a word) is Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who specializes in literally breaking into people’s dreams. He is aided in this fantastical endeavor by an architect (Ellen Page, Juno), a forger, and a chemist, all intent on uncovering people’s secrets when the subject is his/her most vulnerable – asleep. Ken Watanabe (The Last Samarai) plays a corporate shark who hires Cobb’s team to invade the dreams of a potential rival and plant a specific idea.

Because dreamscapes are explored, the visual experience of the movie is truly spectacular, with people floating down halls, walking on ceilings, and cities crumbling. Even more spectacular are the ideas presented: that much more time passes the deeper into a dream you are than passes in real life, that inside a dream people do not notice its strangeness, that the subconscious mind is able to fool the conscious mind, that there are levels of consciousness, that an outside force can plant an idea in someone’s subconscious during dreaming. All of these concepts blur reality and façade and question what the mind can do and accept. As in Memento, Christopher Nolan writes about a hero consumed by a tragedy, wrapped in a story in which all is very very much not as it seems.

Leonardo DiCaprio is the movie. Other actors are important and interesting, but there would be no Inception without DiCaprio, and he carries it at a run, making us believe his intelligence and his conflict with every breath. He even makes his exposition scenes interesting and believable. I also must mention the haunting score, played again and again in the unending ads for the movie, and what a powerful layer it adds to this multi-layered film. Ellen Page’s Ariadne is the most adult I’ve ever seen her, and she makes her architect the viewer, discovering the process of inception, discovering the person who is Cobb. However, apart from DiCaprio, it is Marion Cotillard, who plays Mrs. Cobb, that gives the most riveting performance. Whether furious or heartbroken, she is passionate and impossible to ignore in every scene.

While in its way, this movie could be compared to Ocean’s Eleven because it is basically a heist movie, or the Matrix because it largely takes place in an unreal world where the impossible is possible, it is very much its own creation. When was the last time you felt you’d better pay attention during a movie or you might miss something important? Well, you’ll pay attention during this one.

by Heather Craig

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