In “Inception” Ellen Page’s dream architect Ariadne asks Leonardo DiCaprio’s haunted Cobb, “Why is it so important to dream?” Hamlet contemplated death saying: “To sleep: perchance to dream.” All is not as it appears. Director and Writer Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is the most original movie of the last 5 years. Nolan takes “Inception” quantum levels beyond his “Memento”. “Inception” is simply awesome. My bud Darin cautioned that one has to focus intently during the first 20 minutes of “Inception”, and then it really gets confusing. Master storyteller Nolan takes us on a wild ride and circles back and completes all of the story arcs and threads. Leonardo DiCarprio is powerful. He plays Dom Cobb, a corporate espionage specialist whose explicit gift is extracting people’s dreams. He is hired by ruthless CEO Saito (charismatic Ken Watanabe) to liquidate a rival corporation.
Cobb must do the impossible and create a dream in Fischer (Cillian Murphy), the surviving son of Saito’s corporate rival. This is inception, which Cobb reminds Saito has never been done before. And Cobb is lying. He is a flawed tragic hero, who literally imprisons a dark secret. He is a fugitive living abroad, offering his specific service. Inception may be his last chance at redemption for his very soul and reuniting with his young son and daughter.
Cobb assembles his team. He returns to visit his mentor Miles (solid and great Michael Caine) at a university in Paris. Cobb enrolls Miles’s best student Ariadne (spirited and smart Ellen Page) as his dream architect. Apparently, you can get a PhD in dream architecture in Paris—go figure. In a visually stunning display of manipulated dreams Paris literally bends sideways. Ariadne has an innate gift and is totally hooked. Perceptive Ariadne discerns that Cobb is a deadly liability to the mission—he is haunted by dreams of his wife Mal (captivatingly suffering Marion Cotillard). Cobb tells Ariadne to create dreams anew, never from memories. Apparently, Cobb is violating his own rule.
In Chris Nolan’s construct, dreams have 3 defined levels. The fourth level is the subconscious, an eternity of desire and fear. Also because the mind accelerates in deeper levels of dreams, we experience a dream time dilation—an homage to Einstein? In this dream math: something like 20 seconds is 20 minutes in level 1, 2 hours in level 2, 2 weeks in level 3, and on the order of years in level 4. Nolan meticulously orchestrates all elements as a van plunges into a river. There is the distinct danger that one may be lost for a lifetime in the subconscious—imprisoned and unable to escape for eternity. So the 2.5 hours of “Inception” would be—I kid. Ironically, Cobb and all involved are willing to risk this for merely money and corporate gain.
What occurs as peculiar in Act 2 in level 3 of the dream is the James Bond-like commando raid on the snow-covered fortress. Outwardly, this seems very cheesy. Then the story focuses on Fischer’s memories of his disapproving father. Further beneath Cobb must reconcile the ghosts of his wife or forever be lost. Cillian Murphy is surprising in his quiet humanity and power. DiCaprio is powerful and commanding throughout. Nolan generates space for creation. DiCaprio effortlessly is just being, and is so compelling. For me, “Inception” resonates in these 2 poignant story arcs. Particularly, with Murphy’s Fischer there is amazing catharsis, even in retrospect, it may have been manufactured. Nolan is brilliant. I think in “Inception” memories are just memories—it is the stories we create about them that either empower us or imprison us. In the end Nolan comes full circle and completes the journey, then in the last frame he makes us wonder. Chris Nolan is the master storyteller—enthralling us and always making us consider the possibilities.
Watch the movie trailer:
This post was previously published on IMDb.
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Photo credit: Screenshot from official trailer.