January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 38°F


Stunning film dares audience to dream

A man crawls and climbs down the hallway walls of a spinning hotel room that rotates like a hamster wheel. A café in Paris becomes an exploding set of slow-motion objects that fly in every direction, while a freight train barrels through a downtown Los Angeles shootout in the pouring rain. These breathtaking scenes are all part of the mind-blowing trip explored in Christopher Nolan’s dazzling dream of a movie: “Inception.”

In what looked to be another summer of ghastly remakes and vampire movies, Nolan, director of “The Dark Knight” and “Memento,” brought his $200 million idea to the screen and proved there was still hope for the summer blockbuster.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, a master extractor of people’s dreams and ideas who fled the country after being suspected of murder. When a powerful businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers his only chance to return home to his children, he gives him a catch. Instead of stealing an idea, Dom, his right-hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and their team of dream thieves must implant one in the mind of executive and heir Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to break up his father’s billion-dollar corporation.

Like many of Nolan’s protagonists, Dom is a man haunted by his past — specifically his late wife Mal (Marion Cotillard). His emotional storyline isn’t terribly written yet it’s not the film’s strongest point simply because it takes a backseat to the dazzling visual aspects of the film.

In Nolan’s purposely-indefinite world, his original writing and meticulous attention to detail create an exhilarating three-layered dream sequence that keeps the audience immersed and surprised with each new layer of the dream.

The supporting players brought out the strength in Nolan’s script, especially scene-stealing Tom Hardy as Eames, a British action star who gives the film a sense of humor with his wisecrack remarks and suave persona. As the forger in the team, he can impersonate any character in the subconscious. All the actors bring their strengths, but it’s Nolan who provides the smarts and asks the audience to weave his way through his maze of ideas.

From the blazing streets of Morocco to the snow-covered Alps, Wally Pfister’s breathtaking
cinematography moves fluidly with Nolan’s visionary direction. In a scene unlike any other this year, Ariadne (Ellen Page) uses her mind in Paris to explode objects in a slow, catastrophic motion — one of many mind-blowing scenes.

With an original idea in a year of remakes, Nolan has lived up to the film’s secretive and demanding hype. Audiences will search for clues, but the director will give no easy answers, and he forces them to put the pieces together in his intricate puzzle, a rarity in the dumbed-down blockbusters of summer.

The film’s climax throws viewers onto a thrill ride until it comes to its haunting conclusion. Viewers have obsessed over the controversial ending while the critics have mainly praised the originality. Make no mistake; Nolan’s masterful film is a testament to those daring to dream, both literally and figuratively.

“Inception” was written and directed by Christopher Nolan.