Sunday, July 18, 2010


We've all experienced it; standing there as someone tries to describe the really weird/terrifying/amazing dream they had. It begins with a vague storyline, follows with large gaps in sequencing, people appear and disappear randomly and the dream abruptly ends. The very nature of dreams, that they express a person's subconscious with visuals uniquely marked as threatening or pleasurable, assure that the dream is really only amazing or interesting to the respective dreamer.

In films, the sketchy, fragile, incoherent aspects of dreams are given weight and continuity. In his new film, Inception, writer/director Christopher Nolan weaves a tale of espionage within the the boundless territory of the subconscious. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, who is able to enter the dream of any given target, and design the world of the dream for the purpose of extracting top secrets. Cobb is serious (the kind of serious that sucks the life out of a room) and expects the same from his team of agents. He is a widower, misses his children and seems bored with the labyrinths he is able to construct. There are special effects, it's a summer release after all, but no matter whose subconscious we're exploring, it appears to have been dressed by the same set designer. It is loosely explained in the movie, only the most gifted architects are recruited to construct the layout and details of a dream. Good to know, in case you're looking to spruce up the dark recesses of your mind.

Ellen Page plays Ariadne, introduced as a 'brilliant architect', who impresses Cobb with three quick mazes she doodles on her notepad on command. Cillian Murphy plays their corporate target, Robert Fischer. Unusually thrifty for a billionaire, he travels on a commercial airplane, without an assistant or bodyguard, and waits at the baggage conveyor to collect his luggage. Those moments weren't written to be funny, but I had to laugh.

The concept of dream espionage is imaginative and complex, but the writing is heavy with with exposition. The extent of the dialogue among the team explains what has happened in the past, or just happened or is going to happen next. Inception explores the subconscious with too much consciousness.

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