Inception: not quite what my dreams are made of

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OK, I know a lot of people luuurved Inception and take it as a testament of how brilliant Christopher Nolan is, but this movie left me distinctly unimpressed. I don’t think I could say it better than if I said that I enjoyed it just as much as I enjoyed Salt. Both are great thrillers, with engaging stories and competent actors – but neither left me feeling anything more than “wow…fun Sunday”.

This post of mine comes a little late, I agree, but that’s mostly because I wanted some time to gather my thoughts about why exactly I was underwhelmed by a movie that everyone else seems to have loved. Nolan is a director I respect and admire as much for his skill, as for his boldness. And this movie just isn’t bold enough.

Dreams are strange, beautiful, lustful and the dreamworld is terrifying in how quickly the ground falls from beneath your feet, or how your clothes seem to disappear when you’re in public and you suddenly start making out with your brother. Literally. That happens in my dreams, and dreams of other people – what Nolan dreams of, I’m not sure, but I can bet it’s not about straight-forward car chases where everyone is suitably clad and nobody has a clown’s nose. And those guns that they use in Inception’s dream sequences – they would have turned into snakes or lightning bolts in a ‘normal’ dream and you still wouldn’t wake up. C’est la reve. Nolan’s only concession to the truly surreal is the MC Escher-like hotel corridor on level two. The landscapes of his dreams are too familiar to us and they shouldn’t be. They should terrify us or confound us.

Its not like dreams haven’t been translated well to the screen before. Watch David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive for a fabulous depiction of all the forbidden and dramatic moments that one finds only in dreams. Or take the wonderful Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro – so matter-of-fact in its treatment of the fanatastic world of dreams that the viewer won’t know where the dream ends and where reality begins. And why look at other film makers? Nolan himself has so well depicted the subtle tricks that our minds play. In Memento, he played on the ephemeral and quick-changing nature of our memories, while in the woefully underrated Insomnia, he spun a gripping narrative about a mind that can longer tell between it’s waking and sleeping moments. In The Prestige too he showed us how our mind and it’s obsessions can change us ever-so-subtly, and that too without restoring to some of the eye-watering CG he used in Inception.

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7 thoughts on “Inception: not quite what my dreams are made of

  1. >I agree. Memento was a much better film. I liked Inception, but I couldn't quite fathom why people were going ga-ga over it. Seriously.

  2. >I agree. I enjoyed Inception and I have no problems with Hey another fun Sunday but it could have been so much more. I did find whatever was on screen quite gripping, and I didnt actually get to think that the stuff dreams were made of, were kind of underwhelming. But, I thought the build up to what it could have been was much better than what it turned out to be. And towards the end it got a bit too much a little desperate too. I was not disappointed but its def not his best.. and def no the best movie ever.. and def no Matrix. And the end was sooooo predictable…

  3. >Well as such the movie wasn't a psychological introspection of a DREAM dream. The dream was probably just an alternate reality board game-esque world with a set of rules, which although confining it bring more order. In some ways like how the Matrix was a narrowed(dumbed?) down version of Vedantic philosophy or whatever. So expecting a Dali painting might just render you feeling cheated by a MS powerpoint clip art pic instead.

  4. >@NRKey – The question then is, why choose the framework of a dream? I'm sure there are other, better ways of delving into the subconscious like Nolan himself did in his previous movies. The trouble with this one was it was very very dumbed down, and it did not even raise any questions. I mean, its obviously an awful thing to be tampering with someone's dreams, but why was this not explored? I think Memento is still one of my best movie experiences…also Dali-esque in how it plays with reality and perceptions of reality. One almost feels giddy while watching it. I was hoping for a similar experience when I went in to watch Inception.

  5. >Dreams were the medium I guess to make the story more relatable in a way. Thats an alternate way of saying that it was dumbed down for the masses. Somehow it didn't make the movie less enjoyable. More than a work of art it was a mathematical equation of causality splattered around for the viewer to sit an piece together. Now the lack of ambiguity is debatable since its a dreamworld, so theres room for visual exploitation. But the moment ambiguity would be given the upper hand it has the complete tendency to smear the plot/equation. Now it wasn't Aronofsky's Pi or Lynchs Mull. Drive but then its a genre apart. And as for exploiting the dreamworld, I guess Paprika did it better.

  6. Even though I am on of those who “loved” the movie..hehe…But I really like your take about depiction of dreams 🙂 Quite interesting. Want to watch Insomnia soon.

    • Haha! Thanks Payal! I didn’t hate the movie…I did enjoy it. It’s just that I disagree with people who call it a ‘great movie’. It just seemed very gimmicky to me and not audacious at all.

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