July 20, 2010

Mind Games

What’s the most tenacious parasite? An idea. Only one idea from human’s brain can build cities.
One idea, can transform the world and re-write the rules. That’s why, I have to take this. 

This line, spoken by Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), drives the concept of "Inception", an intriguing, suspenseful, and delightful sci-fi romp and certainly one of the most unique films of the decade. The movie is an excellent companion to "Shutter Island", DiCaprio's other 2010 outing, wherein he plays yet another tormented widower.

Much is being written about the game-changing special effects and that "Inception" will be another high water mark in the tradition of "The Matrix". All true...However, it the relationship between Cobb and his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) that is the heart of "Inception"; what drives the protagonist to behave the way he does and it explains his motivations and purpose.

Most films you see are instantly forgettable. "Inception" is impossible to forget, as it winds its way into your mind (like those worms in "The Wrath of Khan") and plants itself into your subconscious. There's a lot going on in this movie--probably too much for just one viewing and its non-linear, multi-layered story telling is both apt and rapturous. Although I am biased, DiCaprio anchors this film in a way that really needed to happen. I have read that it was DiCaprio who pushed Nolan to increase the emotional core of the film and the actor's instincts were on the mark. Layers of dream scapes, floating bodies, and collapsing worlds mean little if you do not care about the people inside them.

Here, Nolan has crafted a taught and riveting narrative that keeps you watching and listening. I pity anyone who left to go to the washroom. Missing just five minutes of the story  is enough for some serious knowledge deficit. The film deserves an Oscar nod for film editing, as it is a pristine, fast, and sleek cut of an ambitious idea.

One reviewer called the last shot in the film a joke on the audience by Nolan and that many have booed the ending. I wholeheartedly disagree. The ending broke my heart, as I believe it was intended to. Nolan respects his audience too much to merely wink at them and mock their attention. Audiences members who booed have been sadly induced to cynicism by years of pap from such filmmakers as Shyamalan and the b-level movies that pass for horror these days. Rather, Nolan provides a clue to his motivations in the last heart-wrenching scene between Cobb and Mal in their apartment. It is the most moving and important scene in the film and shows how strong of an actor DiCaprio really is. It delivers a critical revelation that is both devastating and revelatory. The "was it?/wasn't it?" ending is the perfect way to leave this fantastic tale of digging into your subconscious...

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