I have two reservations on a second viewing of Nolan's film. One is the lack of interest - which I felt for a second time - due to the unnecessary complexity of the plot. I could deal with a dream presented as reality, and maybe even a dream within a dream, but not with a third level - with a dream within that one again. And especially not when the three narratives are occurring in different time frames, at different rates. It was necessary for the editing to cut between the three different dreams and also the non-dream frame story outside of all of them - and I found that I was incapable, even on this second viewing, of recognising - or, for that matter, caring, which might be more important - which level I was looking at in any given moment. About three-quarters of the way through the film, when the bus was still falling imperceptibly towards the water, I was ready to shout at the screen that it should get on with it and fall in. (I did, however, watch to the end both times.)

I haven't yet mentioned, adding to the complexity, the secondary plot - the one to do with the reason why Leonardo DiCaprio's character should not enter one of these dreams - tho of course he does. That leads to the famously ambiguous ending - which was created in the cutting room, not in the script, by the way. But tho I could see this was setting up an openness, I failed to be able to explain the alternatives to myself.

My second reservation as to the quality of the film is a moral one, and goes to another generic characteristic - the film as a heist movie (assuming the primary genre is fantasy/scifi). On this level of meaning, there is a goal to be achieved, something to be acquired. It turns out to be a will (as in last testament) which is in a locked safe. Nothing more valuable than that, and it contains merely a father's opinion of a son. It's an amazingly trivial object to be the object of a quest so elaborate.

This reminded me of Nolan's first film, Memento, in which there is an apparatus of mind-boggling complexity, again having something to do with the manipulation of time. In the earlier film, the motivation is nothing more than ... revenge.

There's nothing much more here. It's clear that Nolan's intention is to make a striking film rather than to investigate some question of morality. And that's all right. It's just to note that this moves his work towards the entertainment end of the spectrum, and away from art.

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

reviews | Garry Gillard | New: 28 February, 2017 | Now: 28 February, 2017