Thursday, July 15, 2010

‘Inception’: Living in Dreamtime

Labyrinthine and audacious, Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” weaves a complex, complicated tapestry about dreams and the subconscious. Realities converge and mutate in the missions of one crafty mindscaper, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who intrudes in people’s dreams and unlocks their prized secrets.

Constantly challenging in its exploration and execution of ideas, “Inception” introduces a team of agents with the technology and expertise to infiltrate and reshape dreams as they see fit. Cobb is joined by fellow dream-walkers, the structure-sculpting “architect” (Ellen Page), the shape-changing “forger” (Tom Hardy), and the resourceful “point man” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), among others.

The group shares an adventure in a target’s dreamspace, encountering unexpected defenses along the way, as well as problems posed by Cobb’s baggage. The manifestation of his deceased wife (Marion Cotillard) keeps appearing in the dream realm with him, disrupting the group’s meticulous plans repeatedly.

Visually arresting scenes complement “Inception’s” mind-blowing concepts; it gets especially insane when multi-layered dreams intersect and shift. It gets confusing from time to time, too; sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of all the simultaneous realities. That said, it pulls out all the stops and doesn’t bother with plying the obvious routes. A second viewing will make more sense of the deliberately circuitous and tangled subplots.

DiCaprio leads a brilliant cast; the aforementioned actors perform excellently, as do Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe, who previously worked with Nolan in “Batman.” As with Nolan’s other intelligent films, “Inception” asks tough questions, but this cerebrally stimulating endeavor still has an accessible human side. The deep and maze-like “Inception” offers an exceptional experience that, unlike many temporary sojourns to dreamscapes, indelibly leaves its distinct mark in the waking world.

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