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Archive for July 19th, 2010

Inception

“Non, Rien de rien, Non, Je ne regretted Rien”

When was the last time you saw a big budget summer blockbuster that didn’t treat its audience like idiots. Strangely enough it was two years ago and the movie was The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan has done it again. Inception is an intelligent and thoughtful movie with sublime acting, fantastic photography and a plot with just enough ambiguity to emphasise the existential themes.

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a sort of corporate spy, he steals information from peoples subconscious via their dreams. He is hired to use the technology involved to do something believed to be impossible “inception” (you may know what inception is from the trailer or other reviews, if you don’t I won’t give it away). There is also in issue with ghosts Cobb’s past. To do this he recruit’s a team who all have there own ability: Point man, Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt); Forger, Eames (Tom Hardy); Architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page); Chemist, Yusuf (Dileep Rao). Playing out somewhere between a heist movie and a con-man man movie Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) is The Mark.

Early in the movie Cobb explains to Ariadne (Ellen Page) that “you never really remember the beginning of a dream, you always wind up in the middle of what’s going on”, that’s how the movie starts, right in the action, is that telling us something about what we are seeing? That’s something I really can’t give away! Cobb also mentions “the chance to build cathedrals and cities, things that never existed”. As well as an explanation of what they are doing in the movie this also sounds like a definition of filmmaking, and more importantly sci-fi/fantasy filmmaking. And that is what this is, as well as everything else this movie is Christopher Nolan’s love letter to cinema. Having made a billion dollars with The Dark Knight, he could have made any movie, who at Warner would have had the balls to say no to him? Where some directors would have gone for a small arty film and others an explosive blockbuster with a big budget, Nolan made both. What could have been a rambling esoteric mess is actually by far the best movie of the year.

There is a song that plays a recurring and significant role in the movie, there is nothing in the plot to suggest it has to be a particular song, but they use the same one throughout: Non, je ne regrette rien sung by Édith Piaf. Is this a reference to regrets the characters may have or is it an in joke (Marion Cotillard played Édith Piaf in La Vie en rose). Nolan is keen to play down both possibilities saying he chose it because of its distinctive sound.  Another nice touch is the amount of real action on display in the movie where it would have been cheaper and easier to achieve with CGI such as the rotating hallway, that that really was achieved by rotating the set, but we are dealing with the director who somersaulted a truck two years ago. That’s not to say there isn’t CGI in this movie, there is a lot of it but it is used in the right way and the right place to achieve what is impossible in the real world like a Paris street folding over on itself.

With the dark tone of the Batman movies Nolan is has gained an unfairly dour reputation. This movie also at times demonstrates a great sense of fun with Joseph Gordon-Levitt zero graffiti antics and Tom Hardy’s wonderfully over the top delivery. We also have Gordon-Levitt and DiCaprio running around in tuxedos looking like young versions of James Bond. Continuing that theme there is also a skiing scene reminiscent of 70’s Bond movies. DiCaprio plays it serious with a semi permanent scowl on his face he is always believable in his character, his scenes with both Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page are sensational. You leave the movie wanting to know more about these characters.

The greatest testament to the quality of the script is despite the labyrinthine story it isn’t as hard to follow as you may have been told. Without giving anything away the ending is perfect.

The first ever movie to achieve Five Stars out of Five.

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