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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Favourite Movies: Inception

As always when we left the cinema after seeing Inception my friends turned to me and asked me what I thought of it. I remember answering in two words: wonderfully ambiguous – and so it was. The plot is hellishly complex and you really need to be on your toes to keep up with things. It all centres on Cobb (played brilliantly by Leonardo Dicaprio) who is desperate to return home to the US and his children but unable to do so after being accused of killing his wife Mal (played by the wonderfully talented Marion Cotillard). After failing in an extraction – basically industrial espionage inside someone else’s head – he’s made an offer he simply can’t refuse by the man he’s just tried to rob (Mr Saito played by Ken Watanabe). The offer is deceptively simple – insert an idea into someone’s mind and make him believe that it’s his own idea: Inception. A method that Cobb knows to work because he successfully planted such an idea inside the mind of his wife, the deceptively simple and equally deadly idea that ‘this world isn’t real’ which leads to tragic consequences and Cobb’s present predicament. Assembling a team to undertake this difficult mission Cobb needs to recruit a new dream architect (Ariadne played by the ever cute Ellen Page) who becomes aware that Cobb’s hold on reality is slipping and that the sub-conscious energy of his dead wife could kill them all.

Of course the synopsis above really doesn’t do any justice at all to my favourite film of 2010 by far. Not only was this film very intelligent it made little effort to mollycoddle the audience and instead treated them like adults with enough imagination to keep up with the increasingly complex and convoluted narrative. I know at least one of my friends lost the plot and had some definite WTF moments especially when the action became a dream within a dream within a dream and proceeded to move between all three states and back again. I kept up but there were times that I really had to concentrate there! This is mostly definitely not a movie you could watch, pop out for a hot dog, and expect to pick up the storyline as if you had never left (use that pause button on the DVD if you need the loo or a drink – trust me!). But apart from the wonderful way this whole movie was filmed – jaw droppingly good in places – there are two main reasons why I love this movie so much. Firstly is the originality of the whole thing. The script is brilliant and the acting is equal to the challenge. Indeed the only person who seemed to be acting at any point was Ellen Page. Everyone else was seamlessly part of the plot especially Dicaprio (I was seriously impressed by him in this movie) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I thought gave Dicaprio a run for his money).

But above everything else was the whole idea of the nature of reality. Not long after the movie came out there was much discussion about whether or not the whole movie was in fact inside a dream – presumably Cobbs’. After several viewings I come down firmly on that side. There are numerous examples of characters in the movie (or bits of his subconscious) telling him to ‘wake up’, ‘come back to reality’, ‘stop fooling himself’ and so on. There are so many references to the unreality of the situation – often quite subtle – that if you look for them they crop up everywhere: just like in a dream. Then, of course, there’s the ending. Cobb needs to know (does he suspect) if this is real or just a dream – and we’re never allowed to find out, hence the wonderful ambiguity. But think on this – Several characters tell Ariadne that she must use a device she made herself (or uses exclusively) to tell her if what she is experiencing is real – and yet Cobb uses his wife’s totem……. I do so love to read between the lines in movies like this. The construction of the whole thing is a work of genius and is a practically faultless film. It’s not often that I use words like that. Brilliant.  


dbackdad said...

I loved Inception and it has stood up to repeated watchings. All the acting is great by the stable of Christopher Nolan actors (Gordon-Levitt, Hardy, Watanabe, Murphy, Cotillard, Caine, etc.) plus Page and DiCaprio.

I think the music does a good job of establishing a mood and atmosphere as well.

CyberKitten said...

I've seen it about 3-4 times now and I'm still enjoying it - especially as I'm still spotting things (like in the kidnapping scene - in the rain - where one of the streets is called 'Hope').

The music is brilliant. I bought the soundtrack and have listened to it lots of times.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Definitely one of the more memorable movies in recent years. It's rare that a movie has me leaving the theater actually thinking in depth about it.