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Review: Inception

Kafkaesque is a word used frequently, and for the most part incorrectly, but an entirely appropriate term to reference Christopher Nolan's latest, Inception.

Dominick Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has one last score to make before he can get his life back. Saito (Ken Watanabe) needs Cobb and his crew to infiltrate the mind of Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy) and plant an idea. Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is skeptical and very vocal about it. Inception, that is, the placing of an idea into someone else's subconscious hasn't been successful before, but Cobb is willing to risk it all.

Deception has always been a motif in Nolan's films and Inception is no different. This film does not hesitate to subvert what the audience's expectations are and leave you grasping for air trying to figure it all out. Irrationality lurks everywhere in our dreams. Events taken and shoved into a random assortment of our collective conscience lead down rabbit holes too uncomfortable for us to face in the daylight. Unfortunately, for Cobb this is where he works. The manifestations of their marks spring to life quickly and often in a deadly manner. Unsettling things follow us from the dream world into the next. 

An interesting trend is occurring among protagonists in Nolan's filmography. All of his films are centered around men who have lost everything. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) in Memento - his memory and his wife, Will Dormer (Al Pacino) in Insomnia - his partner and his sanity, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) in The Prestige - his wife and his inability to end his compulsion to finding Alfred Borden's secret, and of course Bruce Wayne - what hasn't he lost? Cobb, like the aforementioned characters, is not heroic by any means. In fact his motives could be seen as selfish, but there is a method to his actions (even if the missteps result in horrifying consequences).

If Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't already getting attention for Shutter Island, he has turned in another stellar performances in a still developing year. While Shutter Island may get more votes one could argue that this work is just as deserving of accolades. Gordon-Levitt and Page are stand outs as well, if their roles were indeed auditions for the third Batman they aced with flying colors. And Cillian Murphy whose role was understated in the trailers is truly excellent.

M.C. Escher could not have dreamed up a better landscape than the one provided by cinematographer Wally Pfister, special effects advisor Chris Corbould and production designer Guy Dyas. A standard for practical effects in an age where CGI reigns. Most impressive are the scenes that turn down CGI in favor of hand made sets. The hallway corridor sequence is such an example, it involved a brutal collisions on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's part but the film is much more satisfying for foregoing the computers and using an actual rotating giant hallway. Inception looks like nothing I've seen before in film. Seeing the city skyline folding in on itself in a theatre was like going to the movies for the first time again.

Nolan, a master of pace and storytelling, leaves you on the edge of your seat for almost the entirety of the film. The ending will be divisive, but its impact is shattering.


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