Inception: Anatomy of a Dream

Christopher Nolan’s newest offering, Inception has been able to supersede the benchmark set by his earlier The Dark Knight, and then some more. More than any other film of his, Inception is a successor to Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige. Exploring the dark recesses of the mind has always been an obsession for Nolan. In his very first film (Following), we met a thief named Cobb whose purported objective of stealing was to make his victims¬†realize¬†the value of their possessions. He was hiding a few dark secrets. Twelve years and five films later, we come across another Cobb in Nolan’s work – a thief again – only this one steals dreams! This Cobb too, has some secrets of his own. He is hired by a Japanese tycoon, Saito, for infiltrating his enemy’s dreams, and plant a thought – the process referred to here as “inception”. Thus begins one of the most fascinating journeys into the human psyche ever filmed, since Alex Proyas’ Dark City. It’s a shrinks’ fantasy: dreams with elaborate architecture (strong references to Dark City and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis), mazes, projections, and most interesting of all, several layers – each with its unique set of architecture and look and feel.

Through much of his work, Christopher Nolan has always challenged the viewer – open endings, ambiguous character motivations, and that ubiquitous tool in all his films (barring Insomnia and Dark Knight) of non-linear chronology – all have this annoying impact of confounding and perplexing the viewer, and thereby the film lingers…Inception succeeds in this immensely – like the protagonist, it effortlessly traverses between dreams, reality, and the gray area in-between; I think it’s in that category of films where with every repeat viewing, a new interpretation emerges. One thing’s for sure….you can’t go home with ALL the answers!

Leonardo DiCaprio’s been proving time and again that he has come a long long way since his Titanic days (a film he’s still identified with, at least in India) – and in Inception, he shows us why the likes of Martin Scorsese have passed the baton of Robert Deniro to him. The rest of the cast do a great job as well – special mention can be made of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard.

Mr. Nolan, take a bow.

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