**No real spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the film I advise going into knowing as little as possible**
I would guess that if you are a film fan the one summer movie that fired up your anticipation in a sea of otherwise tired re-makes and franchise pictures was “Inception.” I would also guess that the bulk of this interest rested I’m sure on the fact that it is Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The trailers and viral campaign were intriguing, but the true curiosity for many must have rested on the knowledge that, whether or not you like the final product, Nolan makes films worth seeing. His films share a few traits: they are original, ambitious, intelligent, and above all, creative. If that doesn’t make a person want to see a movie, I don’t know what does.
People go to the movies for a lot of reasons and many different types of films are made to try and satisfy different audiences. No single film will be liked by everyone. When writing our film “The Waterhole” I had to accept early on that there were going to be a lot of movie-goers that did not want to see a film about a twenty something man, unsure what to do with his life, drinking too much and acting like a jackass. My goal in writing such a story had to be to make it as original as possible so that even if conceptually the film wasn’t interesting to a viewer, the characters and their personal journeys might be. I may not have succeeded on a level I would have liked to, but at our recent screening for the Pretentious Film Society of Annapolis it was very reassuring to have an elderly woman come up after the screening, shake my hand and tell how much she loved the movie.
Inception succeeds in making the material fresh in a big way. If you take it at face value it is a essentially a one-last-heist-for-redemption story. What the film does that is so remarkable is it turns that story upside down and then continues to twist it, creating an audacious world within, constantly raising the stakes on the audience visually, and within the narrative. All film is illusion. A bad film will suck you out of it and you know you are watching a movie. A good film can grab you by the heart, play with your emotions, make you fidget in your seat or lean back in awe. The bulk of the third act of “Inception” is so well crafted that watching it you are completely at its mercy. It is a high wire act constructed on bold ideas and ambitious set pieces. Yet, if I were to try and describe it to you, you would think it sounded like the dumbest thing ever. The film becomes an experience.
There will be those that complain of plot holes or that the film is too complicated or too clinical or even that the action scenes were flat. Fine. If you are a person who loves film you have to appreciate all the craft that went into “Inception.” The amazing design work, the ingenious script the clever editing… it is all there. In an age when so many films feel stale, like they were written to mirror something that already exists, “Inception” really pushes the art form to new limits and as a film lover you have to appreciate that. Modern filmmakers have a unique challenge to take this medium of storytelling that has been around for a century and create something fresh and original, not to mention find an audience for it. It is no small feat. Even if they don’t always succeed I will always appreciate the effort by modern filmmakers such as Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese to name a few. I think Christopher Nolan fits comfortably in that esteemed company.