Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an elite thief who has mastered the art of stealing valuable secrets from people’s dreams and is given the dangerous task of trying to implant an idea into the mind of a corporate CEO.
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I suggest that the purpose of the film not to explore the dream life but rather to use the idea of exploring the dream life to justify creating a complex narrative experience for the viewer. That is the purpose of the film; the dreams operate as alibis.
[When the van begins to fall over the bridge,] it dawned on me that Nolan has elevated exposition of new premises to the main form of communication among characters. Discussion of their personal relationships, hopes, and doubts largely drops out. As the Russian Formalists would say, exposition, usually given early on and at wide intervals later in a plot, becomes the dominant here.
20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE DREAMS. NOLAN succeeds an original challenge: to explore & manipulate the unknown of mind, by travelling between reality & 3 layers of dreams. Cunning, exciting & gripping. A few lengths. === 20.000 LIEUES SOUS LES REVES. NOLAN réussit un pari original: explorer & manipuler l’inconscient en voyageant entre réalité & 3 couches de rêves. Habile & passionnant. Parfois saisissant. Des longueurs.
If Nolan wasn't conforming to the modern plot heavy gymnastics of modern mainstream films, some of his intriguing, but greatly unanalyzed ideas, could have elevated him to an auteur. Instead, it confirms my belief that he's talented, but is the most overrated English-language born director of the aughts decade and beyond, perhaps only with the exception of the film-school-in-a-box technique of Paul Thomas Anderson.
Towing the line between his mainstream and experimental affectations, Nolan pays homage to 'La Jetee' in this meta-narrative, hall-of-mirrors, Escher-esque, dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream premise. Whilst 'Memento' remains his greatest cinematic achievement, there is much of merit in a film where an ensemble cast shine alongside the intricacies of this carefully conceived Rubic's cube narrative.
Over-the-top praise for this film has obscured any real possibility for discussion. I don't place much value in the ambiguous ending, and I wish earlier parts of the film were infused with more mystery and imaginative disarray. The visual experience is enjoyable, but I never felt any attachment to DiCaprio's character.
Well... I probably liked it more than two stars might suggest but at the same time it didn't really grip me. I really like Ellen Page but here she was pretty much just used as Ms. Exposition which was disappointing...
Despite criticisms that his work is cold and mechanical, there's an emotional centre here that makes it work. For all its hi-tech adornments, it's really the story of a broken man building a system of artificial representations to keep alive the memory of a departed love. Cities are presented as literal labyrinths of the mind, but it's the decaying city, dying without love, that is the film's most pertinent metaphor.
After watching it twice my opinion hasn't changed much. Yes, the theme is original: planting life-changing ideas during sleep time, dreams-within-dreams. However, it seemed more like an excuse to present some cool shots and sequences (like when dreams fall apart, the kicks, the no-gravity hotel, the Limbo) sometimes overpowered by too much gunshot sequences. A little more restraint would have made it better.
Nolan's detractors tend to label his directing style as 'cold' and 'sterile.' Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way. With "Inception," Nolan proved that the Hollywood blockbuster was in dire need of a more cerebral approach. While the script is a bit over-burdened with exposition, "Inception" provides plenty of imagery to dazzle the eyes at the same time the story ties the viewer's brain in knots.