Posted by: greercn | July 26, 2010

Inception

Is it possible to plant an idea in someone’s brain while they are sleeping? Can you extract information in dreams? That’s the theme of this brave and satisfying action movie, which drags in part of the last third of its 148 minute length, but dares to tackle big, brash science fiction themes.

If you’ve read a lot of sci fi, you’ll recognise a great many of the concepts from lots of sources. I like Christopher Nolan, who turns 40 this week. He has become an unusual figure in making movies that get you thinking. He isn’t scared of the cerebral or the off beat and this is a very good thing indeed.

“Inception” has divided my friends. Half think it’s the best thing ever and half seem to be disappointed. Since disappointment and guilt are twin themes running through Nolan’s work – along with whether dishonesty is justified or not – you need to be a bit of a daydreamer to get the most out of this.

My best moments have come from daydreams that meander along with “what ifs”. So I declare an interest. I don’t like Leonardo di Caprio, but he has he evolved from a girlie boy to a mature actor in this. He made some of that journey in “Shutter Island” but he seals the deal here.

The scenes that challenge gravity take my breath away. The architecture is designed by someone who knows what they are doing.  The chases and crashes and things that go bang are just magical.

If anything is wrong, it’s that this movie is a little too tricksy when it is trying to be clever. Regrettably, there are just too many ideas all at once and they get jumbled up. It’s as if Nolan, who directed and wrote the script, is trying to pour everything out at once. I think there is quite a neat set up for “Inception 2” and I would enjoy seeing that.

Marion Cotillard plays the dead mother/wife to great effect. Although – and here’s one sign of smarmy tricky stuff – Piaf starts singing “Je Ne Regrette Rien” when she is around, which is just a little too much obvious homage to Marion’s star turn as Piaf in “La Vie En Rose”.

The whole cast is magnificent. Michael Caine is great and Cillian Murphy shines. Ellen Page does not annoy me in this and she has done that before. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite, Talulah Riley and Lukas Haas are all very good.

Ken Watanabe is growing in stature and style. Dileep Rao is excellent and Michael Gaston has an intriguing cameo as an immigration officer.

The settings are all fascinating. Japan and Alberta are used to particularly grand effect and you just cannot believe how surreal Paris becomes. Visually, the design values are astonishing.

So, if you are wondering whether to see it or not, I’d say go see it. The Stratford Picture House was packed and everyone was chatting a great deal and animatedly, afterwards. if you like to think about alternative realities, this movie will provoke interesting thinking.

But – and it’s a teeny but – must so many mothers be dead or dull or absent in films? I am getting slightly sick of dead mothers who leave dad holding the babies, in movies. And I have seen one too many snow scene lately. although I never get tired of Alberta’s mountains.

It’s brave and brash and innovative. It tackles ideas and dreams and cities that float in the air. It has an enormous amount to commend it. I won’t be seeing it twice, but I am very glad I have seen it. I will be thinking and speaking and daydreaming about it for some time to come.

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Responses

  1. This review is fair and agree that the amount of themes seems to suggest unfinished business in some of the characters. Personally I would have preferred a more simple thriller with the science fiction rather than personal demons and romantic themes at the forefront. The creepiness of the idea of an optimum static world did add a dimension of horror to the film though. I did feel very unsettled by it and that is what stopped me from raving about how cool the ideas and sets were, but those I saw it with were all very impressed. And they were all insightful folk like you.

    • What a great response from someone with a First Class Degree! Never underestimate yourself, El. You are the best ever. Buying your early art will fund me forever. Love you. G xxx


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