Inception is a film that cannot be viewed merely once. The plot is so ingeniously crafted that it demands multiple viewings. Furthermore, only screenwriter-director Christopher Nolan himself could possibly decode it upon the initial watch. Now I won’t spoil anything for those who have not yet seen it, or for those who saw it but couldn’t quite put their finger on it. All I’ll say is, it took me three viewings to understand the brilliant significance of the finale, and I feel just as mind-blown as I did when I first saw the film.
Bottom Line: A film so implausible, it’s almost a dream itself.
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite, Tom Berenger, Tom Hardy
Inception is a brave risk to be taken in the hands of Christopher Nolan. In other words, it simply would not work if written and directed by any other filmmaker. Dreams are a fascinating phenomenon, but perhaps it’s just as fascinating how Nolan pieces together his film the same way dreams create themselves. In medias res? Check. Start the story on a blank slate? Check. Deliver the repeating notion of déjà vu? Check. The one unmistakable discrepancy: you can’t possibly forget it once it’s over.
Our story centers on Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who is conducting an illegal experiment in order to dissect his wife’s death. The project is known as inception–planting one’s thoughts into another’s dreams rather than allowing dreams to create themselves. The story seems complex, but this only increases when Cobb decides to build layers of dreams, i.e. “dreams within dreams”. Never, though, does complexity trip into confusion. Nolan has succeeded with such complex nature before, particularly with his debut Following and his breakthrough Memento. The pacing gives us more time to masticate on the pensive elaboration, and as a result, the tale is impressively accessible.
Inception is a grandeur to behold, and what cannot be beheld is what floods the audience with sensational “What if?”s. In response to the several theatergoers who walked out of an early screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke (its writer) said, “If you understand 2001 completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.” Although the actions here are not nearly as mysterious as in 2001***, there are several questions raised–important ones, might I add.
***Nolan is one of few filmmakers who has often kept a grand balance between exuberant money-making and incredible filmmaking.