Bigfoot goes to the movies – Inception

3 stomps out of 5

Inception, written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, and Cillian Murphy.

Go see it. It’s fine escapist story-telling. Oh, and if you don’t quite understand some bit of the plot or the logic while you’re watching the movie, don’t worry, there will be another bit that you don’t understand coming up in just a few seconds.

It is said that this movie would have been made solely because of director Nolan’s work on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. What this movie lacks is the powerful story arc (did I ever think I would be saying that about a comic book story?) that the Batman series possesses. So what you have is the directorial skills of a young master being worked out on an inferior, far less tragic hero.

Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t aging well. If he continues in this direction he will be able to play those Edgar G. Robinson gangster tough-guy roles and to look the part. So he’s a little hard to focus on as the hero, he looks too worn, insufficiently resilient. Hardly by accident, to make Leonardo look young Nolan has once again used Michael Caine as the father-figure, this time as DiCaprio’s movie father-in-law rather than the surrogate father he played as Alfred.

DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, an architect. His father-in-law is an architect who teaches architecture in Paris but who also, at another point in the movie, welcomes his son-in-law home to the United States. Never mind. Dom visits father-in-law in hopes of finding – what else – an architect. Father says he has a student even better than Dom was. This giant of a talent comes packaged in the petite 23-year old body of Ellen Page who, despite her gargantuan abilities (Ooo, look, she just folded the Septieme Arrondissement on top of itself) has the ego and presence of a fruit fly. I’ve lived around a few architects and I find that concept totally unbelievable.

Incidentally, the only extramarital smooch that takes place in the movie involves Page as Ariadne. Watch for it…it’s the high point of the sexual content of the film. Afterwards, the actors involved display self-conscious “I can’t believe we just did that” looks that look too genuine to be coached.

This French connection apparently once played a bigger role in the screenplay, as the house that Dom’s wife (Marion Cotillard, yes, really a Parisienne by birth) is – on the outside – a structure that is pure grimy French. Her childhood dollhouse, presumably inside that house, however, seems curiously American Victorian in influence. It hides a fairly industrial-looking safe, so I doubt she really played with it much as a young girl. Anyhow, the French portion of the story is virtually excised. None of these people-based-in-Paris has even a smidgen of a French accent, not even Michael Caine.

There’s lots of things blowing up and startlingly appearing (not the least of which is Ken Watanabe doing a turn as an aged turtle), and a bunch of other people running around trying either to get information or to plant it. All you need to know is that we can inhabit other peoples’ dreams and extract information from them, and if we have to we can inhabit peoples’ dreams of dreams, and at least one person has been able to inject a belief into a person via a dream in a dream in a dream.

Wikipedia explains it all, and it might be a good idea to pop over there now and read the synopsis. That way you’ll be able to help your companion through the labyrinth.

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