Monday, August 09, 2010

'Inception' by Christopher Nolan

9 August 2010

I like a bit of ambiguity in a film: the trick is getting the right balance between telegraphing the plot and creating something so complex it is frustratingly unfathomable. For me, Christopher Nolan’s new film ‘Inception’ achieved just the right balance, starting by bombarding you with confusion then allowing you to gradually – and very satisfyingly – start to piece everything together before leaving you with a lingering soupçon of ambiguity. I really enjoyed Nolan’s breakthrough film, 'Memento' (reviewed here in February 2007) and he does seem to bring a refreshingly creative complexity to everything he does. ‘Inception’ involves Leonardo DiCaprio leading a team who go into someone’s dreams to plant an idea. The surreal nature of dreams within dreams works (once you get the hang of it) because it maintains its own strict logic. The special effects are amazing: as characters walk up walls and along ceilings, and streets full of buildings fold over on top of themselves, it all manages to appear ‘real’ rather than obviously computer-generated. And I loved what I hope were a number of knowing references and in-jokes – absolutely unessential to your struggle to comprehend the plot but terribly satisfying when you spot them. For example, a fleeting cameo from Pete Postlethwaite seemed to me to be a reference to ‘The Usual Suspects’, famous for its own puzzles about what is real and what is imaginary. And surely it wasn’t a coincidence that DiCaprio’s wife is played by Marion Cotillard, best known for her Oscar-winning role in ‘La vie en rose’, and the musical trigger DiCaprio’s team use to communicate to each other in the dreams is Édith Piaf singing ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’? These clever hidden references (and I bet there were heaps more I didn’t spot) reminded me of the allusions to Kate Bush lyrics in David Mitchell’s novel ‘number9dream’ – absolutely nothing to do with the plot but terribly pleasing when you notice them. ‘Inception’ is not an easy film to follow but it’s well worth the struggle – proper complicated!



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