Inception: brilliant or baffling?

For all the hype surrounding Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Inception, I found myself leaving the cinema feeling somewhat bemused. In an attempt to appear a little less clueless, I inevitably began eavesdropping on snippets of conversation from other audience members – was their mission successful? Are we all living in a dream? And, most importantly, is it still ok to fancy Leonardo DiCaprio whilst he’s sporting that strange goatee?

Sadly, it seems the majority them were as lost as I was. Except about the goatee. But since the success of Nolan’s last film, The Dark Knight, both fans and critics have been on the edge of their seat waiting for his next masterpiece – and it seems that the majority haven’t been disappointed.

Inception is undoubtedly an innovative idea. DiCaprio plays Cobb, a man who is trained to invade the dreams of those who know something worth knowing, and extract the secrets of their subconscious. However, his ability to do so has come at a price, with a never-really-explained murder charge rendering him an international fugitive who is unable to visit his beloved children.

Cobb teams up with the shape-shifting Eames (Tom Hardy) and apprentice Ariadne (Ellen Page), with whom our sympathies lie from the moment she pleads, “I just want to understand!” Together with a team of dream invaders, they attempt to accomplish the seemingly impossible process of inception: planting ideas within the mind of Robert Fischer (Cilian Murphy), rather than extracting them. However, Cobb has more experience in the art of inception than he lets on and, amidst a triple-tiered dream construction and some super-strength sedatives, his own subconscious begins to wreak havoc within the dream world. Or the real world. It’s hard to say.

When the TV trailers started encouraging audiences to come and see this film more than once I thought it ridiculous. ‘Isn’t once enough any more?!’ I ranted, ‘aren’t you just pleased I didn’t download it?’ But if I’ve realised one thing from watching Inception (and it may be true that I really did only learn one thing for sure..) it’s that you need to see it more then once. So, there’s certainly a lot of money to be made from fans who’re keen to figure it all out. Inception throws you in at the deep end and doesn’t care if you drown, which is perhaps slightly refreshing for audiences who have been subjected to horribly repetitive plot reiterations of late. I’m talking about you, Twilight.

However, Nolan has been accused of “present[ing] a muddle at such a breakneck pace that it gets mistaken for profundity” (Jenny McCartney, Seven Magazine), which it undoubtedly has, especially amongst those determined to love everything he’s directed since the mind-boggling but brilliant Memento. This film frequently switches from the subconscious to reality without warning or explanation, leaving you wondering if DiCaprio is still suffering from a touch of Shutter Island.

That said, it’s never dull, and perhaps worth a watch simply for the impressive sights of streets folding in on themselves, fruit stalls self-combusting and a world of fascinating architectural possibilities. And if all that sounds a little implausible then, in the words of Eames, “you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

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