Inception: And A Review That Doesn’t Go Gaga Over It

So I’ll make it easier on everyone about to bear with me, and announce beforehand that I quite comprehensively disagree with the hype once shrouding science-fiction blockbuster Inception; written, directed and produced by Christopher ‘Bat-Boy’ Nolan. Which is another way of saying, it is intelligent cinema, oh yes, but I won’t be screaming myself hoarse for Nolan’s lost cause of day-dreaming when the Academy doles out this year’s party favours.

But before I snuggle into my tirade of Inception-bashing, I’ll certainly enumerate its virtues few. Starting with the most obvious and the most stimulating, is the tale so crafted by Nolan. Never has an idea of such complexity been exhibited with such cinematic brilliance. Eternal Sunshine lacked lustre, Shawshank absolutely lacked someone who even remotely looks and also acts like Ellen Page at the same time, even The Godfather lacked an action sequence in zero-gravity.

The music, though not at all exceptional, certainly doesn’t disappoint the ears (it’s Hans Zimmer, what else could you possibly ever expect?). The sets are, for the frantic want of another phrase, the stuff dreams are made of. And the cast, besides an utterly useless cameo by Caine, includes Cotillard, Levitt, Watanabe, Murphy, Page (sigh…) and DiCaprio, who may eventually be one of the most versatile and effective actors of our I-Plod generation. And of course, rather than bask in the glorious outshine known as The Dark Knight, Nolan’s remarkable genius.

But then, where there is so much to offer, there has to be hype. Nolan has learnt to deal with it most effectively ever since Heath Ledger kicked his own bucket (bless his soul), and manages so with a grace that blurs the boundaries between great panache and great publicity. But then, there is hype. And before you expose yourself to the subject in question, it has already left a very nasty taste right in the back of the mouth, fairly reminiscent of iron fillings stewed in last night’s bile.

Personally, my only and irreconcilable problem is the severe underdevelopment of characters. And with a cast ensemble like that (mental note to self – stop thinking of Page), it hurts me. Oh, it hurts me so. What I mean is we know nothing of the characters except that they’re there, a part of this well-written story merely because the narrative demands it. They’re great characters, no doubt, but they’re never really going to register anywhere. Although Cotillard’s Mal will stick through and through, but then again, with a face and a figure like those up there on the screen wrecking havoc on the protagonist’s dreamscapes, would you still rather preserve the image of Watanabe’s Saito aging like foul sake in purgatory?

The characters, every darned last one of them, remain dutifully bound to the vivid dreams they’re creators and constituents of – and like the waning figments of a fleeting dream you’ve just been rudely woken out of, they take leave just as soon as you physically remove yourselves from the rough velvet and creaking springs right beneath. They’re not company on your way back home, they’re not the proud subjects of contention over steaming cups of chai outside the theatre, and they’re not tugging at strings in the back of your head while you look for an auto-rickshaw.

In conclusion, it remains one of the best stories I’ve had the good fortune to watch in the form of cinema, and it will do you an immense amount of good to spend some time and money still to go catch it at a cineplex near you. I’ll continue to disagree with the media worshipping it, but please, if you must admire it for whatever reasons, try not falling prey to the hype as well, and do put in a good word for Page, won’t you?

Sarthak Prakash

*This piece has been selected as the Winning Entry of the Day for the ‘Viewspaper Express Yourself Writing Competition’*