Long before the outbreak of COVID-19 left us stuck indoors; before my sleep schedule became a truly erratic and untamable beast; perhaps even before I had made the transition from a relatively innocent child into a hardened teenager, our family travelled to Banff every weekend for a plethora of entertaining activities. The ride to Banff, normally a two-hour affair, was, in a sense, rather Dickensian. It was the best of times, with magnificent views and takeout courtesy of McDonald’s, but it proved to also be the worst of times, with my mind (which was still very young, mind you) becoming quickly bored by the trip and thus quite rambunctious. Of course, my younger brother Jake joined me in my antics during these trips, and, after an especially rowdy ride, my dad snapped. After berating my brother for throwing his socks out the window at the car behind us, he implored me to “read a book” whilst we drove. Needless to say, I did not read a book. On the contrary, I had decided this would be a perfect time to watch a film my friend talked on ends about (and still does today, although I tend to join him): a Christopher Nolan- directed movie called Inception. Dear readers, welcome to my review of what I believe to be the greatest film of all time.
Nolan’s film stars Hollywood’s finest, Leonardo Dicaprio (last seen on-screen for Martin Scorsese’s thriller Shutter Island) as an immediately-likable protagonist. Dicaprio plays Cobb, a thief who infiltrates the minds of others while they dream and steals their ideas. A lucratively wealthy businessman named Saito, portrayed beautifully by Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, hires Cobb to do the opposite: plant an idea in one of his competitors minds. In return, Cobb has an opportunity to see his family again. With a task that is seemingly impossible, Cobb assembles one of the greatest teams in history (only rivaled by Jordan’s 1995-96 Bulls in this writer’s opinion) and sets about his mission, diving into his target’s subconscious. They must fight their way through layers of dream, struggling to discern between what’s real and what is in their heads; it is an experience of being purely unanchored in another individual’s thoughts and perceptions.
The viewer, too, is unanchored in the experience of the film. The stunning score composed by Hans Zimmer entrances the viewer and gently coaxes them to imagine the world of dreams. Inception is a film so graceful in its presentation that the viewer feels as though they are amidst a dream of their own; floating peacefully as Nolan unveils another scene in his epic. Inception isn’t merely another mindless blockbuster prequel or sequel, but instead a completely original idea that is 10 years in the making. Each statement, cut, and scene is placed with sheer brilliance; each character was casted expertly, as the actors all dissolved into their roles with zest and flourish. The story, filled with as many twists and turns as dreams have, continues to amaze and perplex me upon each viewing of the film. Calling Inception a blockbuster movie is like calling Banksy’s art vandalism. Understand that Inception, dear readers, it is a gift to filmmaking.
Being so young, one might make the presumption that the concept of the film be too difficult for me to understand upon my first viewing. And yet, despite watching it on the quaintly small iPhone 5 (which was a meagre 4.8 inches in height), I was completely transfixed upon the film and was able to understand the story enough to even show some visible emotion. The ending of the film is perhaps the most perfect part about it; it leaves the viewer asking a question. Through all his fast-paced story-telling, isn’t it beautiful that Nolan chooses to end the movie by letting the viewer decide what happens? Filmmaking, and beauty in general, is all about perception; who truly decides if something is good or bad, ugly or sexy, dumb or genius? Just like the dream worlds Inception thrusts its characters into, the idea of beauty is all in one’s head. The only opinion that should matter is your own. Alas, what Nolan has presented here is a stark and downright refreshing contrast to the ever-growing phenom of less-than-mediocre, cash-grab movies that studios continue to produce.
This is Ben Nixon, film enthusiast, signing off.
Main Image GIF: https: https://gifer.com/en/gifs/inception
Leonardo Di Caprio and Christopher Nolan Image: https://www.indiewire.com/2020/01/leonardo-dicaprio-inception-doesnt-make-sense-1202201026/
Fan Movie Poster: https://www.behance.net/gallery/29100611/Inception-fan-art-poster-double-exposition