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DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan RELEASE DATE: July 16, 2010 RATING: PG-13
CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, et al.
// review by Beverley

You will need to stay awake for this film.

Is it true that the most resilient parasite is an idea? I know when a friend of mine sent me a video revealing some philosophy-related spoilers about Inception (which you can view here) he had incepted in me the idea that I had to see this film. Inception is about a team of people trained to invade dreams. Typically, assignments involve extracting information, but this time there is a special mission where they must implant an idea in their target by placing dreams within dreams. However, the main character, Cobb, is still wrestling with his past, and when his subconscious can interact with the dream world, it leads to a potentially lethal combination.

One thing I noticed about this movie was that it was very fast-paced. Because the film takes place in multiple layers of dreams and snaps between dream layers, it can be difficult to follow the plot. Not only are locations affected by the dream layers, but time is as well. Fortunately, watching the video I had seen earlier helped me navigate problems with time and setting more easily. However, it was still very difficult to distinguish between reality and illusion, and to make sense of the events of the story while accommodating for the fact that some pieces of information presented were false.

I really enjoyed the use of special effects to create convincing settings. There were certain points in the plot where in order to create a convincing illusion of the dream world the director would have to manipulate the physics of the setting. For example, while in one dream layer a van containing the members of the team was crashing off a bridge, in the next layer down the team would experience the same fall but slowed down tenfold, so there were scenes where characters would be floating weightless. One team member, Ariadne, was responsible for constructing the worlds the dreams would take place in, and so in certain dreams the audience needed to see her create and destroy fictional dream objects that had unique properties of physics. For example, one scene involved Ariadne constructing a room of mirrors, and once the mirrors were broken the reflections of the main characters remained. The film managed to pull off this manipulation of physics while giving it the convincing strangeness that only dreams can possess.

I really enjoyed the number of metaphysical questions that were posed by the film, such as what it means to be in the 'real world'. I was surprised by how questions about reality affected existential questions as well. For example, each time someone dies in a dream they revert to the previous dream layer. Cobb's wife became convinced that what Cobb believed to be real life was actually a dream and so she committed suicide. Later on, Cobb is given the option of living with his wife -- or a delusion of her -- in what he knows to be a dream or choosing to live in what he believes to be the real world without her. As a result the question arises: "Would it be better to live happily in a world we know to be false than to live miserably in a world we believe to be true?"

Of course, this movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and a growing favourite of mine, Ellen Page, but what I love most about it is that it is full of subtle Easter eggs that make the films new and interesting every time you see it. For example, Page's character Ariadne is likely so named because it is her job to construct and navigate the 'Labyrinth' of the dream world, just as her Greek namesake who helped Theseus defeat the minotaur did. If you are looking for a movie with action, excitement, or lots of mystery you can sink your teeth into, Inception might just be a dream come true.

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