I thought it might be a good idea to start my blog with Inception. One of only a few films in the last few years which has captured the mass imagination of the cinema-going public without the aid of a millions of booksales or film pre-equals. I guess what excites me most about this film is that it feels like Hollywood has started to exhaust the Dc and Marvel vaults. Genuine originality and a mixture of religious sci-fi not seen since The Matrix.
So what is it Inception? Well, the basic premise revolves around the ability to not only entire but manipulate dreams and hopefully plant an idea which affects the dreamer when he wakes. Simple? not quite. One of the limitations of technology and Sci-fi based thriller is that it requires a hell of a lot of detail to create the world in which the audience believes in (hence the more accepted series format). This inevitably leads to exposition - the sure fire way to patronise or bore the audience. Nolan copes with this in the same way James Cameron did in Terminator. Keep the pace high, lace the exposition into the action and hope the audience can keep with it.
Fortunately, if there is one director who has made a career out of audience manipulation then it is Nolan. From The Film That Was Filmed Backwards (Memento) to The Prestige Via Batman. Nolan has a history of compromised Heroes and plots so thick which twists that the audience wear neckbraces instead of 3D glasses. It's this blink and you'll miss it approach which gives Inception that sense of engagement that shouldn't really work with a plot this so intricate and an audience so broad.
There are drawbacks to the complexities. You spend so much time "learning" how the world works that you never stop to appreciate the characters that inhabit it. To say that Dicaprio's Cobb is the most developed character is inaccurate: He's the only character. Ellen Page plays Ariadne, an architect new to the dream realities. Her sole purpose is to learn we go along and to ask questions which the audience probably hasn't even thought to ask. There's plenty of other stereotypes as well. The sidekick, the comic relief, the mentor and other characters who all serve the plot where needs be.
Dicaprio though is brilliant. It seems that since his collaborations with Scorsese he has transformed. Whereas, in the past he has been talented, he has also been too attractive to take seriously. I feel that a lot of his roles have had an undercurrent of trying too hard. An almost child-like will to prove himself to a world that wants nothing more than to press pause and admire the shape of his skull. I read an interview in Empire with Quentin Tarrantino where he notices the same thing about Brad Pitt and how Pitt's aging had relieved him of the burden of stereotypical roles. I feel Dicaprio has also benefited from a change in appearance. It's been 10 years since Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet thrust him onto the bedroom wall of every tweenage girl. The subtlety and nuanced acting he demonstrates in Inception and indeed Shutter Island seem to suggest he's finally at ease with the skin he's in.
Scores 4 out of 5
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Splendid turn from Dicaprio. In my dream world I'd like to see a sequel.Nolan has created the world: I want to see who he populates it with.