Monday, 2 August 2010

Inception

Dreaming is life's great solitary adventure. Whatever pleasures or terrors the dream state provides, we experience them alone or not at all.

But what if other people could literally invade our dreams, what if a technology existed that enabled interlopers to create and manipulate sleeping life with the goal of stealing our secret thoughts, or more unsettling still, implanting ideas in the deepest of subconscious states and making us believe they're our own?

Welcome to the world of Inception, written and directed by the masterful Christopher Nolan, a tremendously exciting science-fiction thriller that's as disturbing as it sounds. This is a popular entertainment with a knockout punch so intense and unnerving it'll have you worrying if it's safe to close your eyes at night.

For Inception is not only about the dream state, it often plays on screen in a dreamlike way, which means that it has the gift of being easier to follow than to explain. Specifics of the plot can be difficult to pin down, especially at first, and guessing moment to moment what will be happening next, or even if the characters are in a dream or in reality, is not always possible. But even while literal understanding can remain tantilizingly out of reach, you always intuitively understand what is going on and why.

Helping in that understanding, and one of the film's most satisfying aspects, are its roots in old-fashioned genre entertainment, albeit genre amped up to warp speed. Besides its science-fiction theme, Inception also has strong film noir ties, easily recognizable elements like the femme fatale, doomed love and the protagonist's fateful decision to take on "one last job."
 

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Dom (short for Dominick) Cobb, the leader of a crack team of "extractors" who are paid well by rival business and political leaders to drug the competition and steal their best, subconsciously inspired ideas. Watanabe's character, however, charges the group with the never-before-tried task of implanting an idea in the mind of his chief competitor's son and heir. This process is referred to as "inception."

From there, Nolan's seamless script twists and turns as it introduces other characters (including Cobb's father, played by Michael Caine, and an architectural student winningly portrayed by Juno's Ellen Page), explores multiple levels of consciousness, and uses impressive visual effects to literally turn reality in on itself. While I would love to read what a psychologist or dream analyst makes of Inception, it perfectly reflected my experience of the surreal figures and action that normally occur in recognizable settings within my dreams.

Of course, one is led to wonder throughout Inception exactly which characters' dreams are being played out, or if the whole movie might be a dream. This brain-teasing on the part of Nolan and his excellent cast (which also boasts great turns by Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard and the long-MIA Tom Berenger) never feels manipulative, gratefully. Rather, it feels natural, even organic given the subject matter. I detected enjoyably intentional nods to James Bond adventures, especially during the team's invasion of a snow-covered fortress in the mountains. Composer Hans Zimmer often seems to be knowingly channeling Bond score stalwart, John Barry.


Inception also reminded me in spots of the very effective, Martin Scorsese-directed thriller Shutter Island Shutter Island also benefited from a game, top-notch cast and crew.

Many critics are passionately, even vociferously, divided over Inception. It's been a while, though, since the critical community has had a large-scale debate over a movie. I think this isn't only a testament to Inception's high profile but to Nolan's complex, visionary achievement. See it, and feel free to weigh in here with your own reactions. Like dreams, movies can linger and haunt long after they're over. released earlier this year, and not just because DiCaprio stars in both films. Both play with their characters' and audiences' perceptions of reality and sanity, as well as the mental toll that loss and grief can take.


2 comments:

  1. cm berat jek cite ni..leo xpnah nk blakon cite ringan..I penat nk pk u..huhu

    ReplyDelete
  2. houh~sebab tue laa aku sgt suke kan dia!! citte yg ade makna n bkualiti. filem-filem macam ni lah yang boleh membakalkan kita semakin bijak tempuhi masa depan--bukan cam....... hahahhahha

    X)

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