Saturday, July 17, 2010

Movie Review > Inception starring Leonardo De Caprio

"Inception" starring Leonardo DeCaprio directed by Christopher Nolan (Momento, Dark knight, Insomnia) is what I would call a REAL psychological thriller. Personal analysis helps.

Here we go.

Leonardo de Caprio -- the extractor -- specializes in subconscious security. He spies on, and tries to extract information from his target's psyche. To do it he has to get into the target's sub-conscious where ideas & truths run free. Our most natural experience with the sub-conscious is in dreams so De Caprio has a way to enter these dreams.

This movie naturally centers around a particularly difficult case. To succeed, the plan is two fold. 

First, the inception of an idea, i.e. planting/suggesting an idea to the target, since once implanted, there is no stopping it. Ideas and truths -- as well as fears & doubts -- roam freely in the sub-conscious; thus modern day psychoanalysis. The idea being that the inception of the idea will eventually lead to truth. 

But because of the complexity of this case, the other part of the plan involves, not one or two but three levels of dreams, i.e. the participants in the level one dream, are taken over by folks @ level 2, only to be supplanted by the folks at the 3rd level of the dream. This suggests the complexity of the target's defenses  protecting the truth. So you sit in a darkened movie theatre following Leonardo de Caprio (and others) pursue the idea implanted deep in the target's psyche.

The overall architect of this multi-tiered dream construct is non other than Ellen Page, the quirky star of current Microsoft commercials but most preciously starring in the wonderful "Juno".  I'm not sure why she was cast in this role except maybe it was her ability to provide a flat-line performance, i.e. objective, methodical, mathematical. 

Anyway, back to the plot.

The plot, i.e. the assignment, is to discover the final wishes of a dying tycoon: is he going to leave his company to his son or force him to strike out on his own? A pretty thin motive to be carrying such a heavy movie load but Mr. Nolan tries to bulk it up by having the dying tycoon's only competitor finance the whole caper for business reasons.

The trick here is to make sure that (1) there is enough time to complete the job & (2) that everyone is sufficiently asleep so they don't wake up & interrupt the flow of the various dreams which have to work in sync to succeed. 

Enter an East Asian character who has the right sleeping potion. He also has the music that, when played, awakens everyone from their drugged sleep. The sleep has to be deep enough to repel any doubts caused by outside influences (noise, light, etc.) because any of these would intrude on the dreams & create greater obstacles to retrieving the truth. These disturbed 'dreamscape' scenes are visually interesting.

Confused enough?

The last layer of this plot involves the investigator, himself, who is trying to 'return' home to his kids having left his wife behind in an earlier dreamscape where there was nothing but happy times. He is torn by the guilt of leaving her behind & returning to real life & the love of his kids. Each time any of these feelings enter his psyche, his wife appears & he has to interrupt his mission to deal with her.

At the end of this rather longish movie, everything is resolved. You might be a  little tired of thinking about what you just saw but you cannot deny that you were on a director's trip much as "Apolcalypse Now" was for Francis Ford Coppola. If you enjoy this sort of movie, you will probably enjoy this one, too. I did. 


  1. I've always loved movies that make you think, keep you on your toes, even if the plot makes no sense whatsoever. For me, movies do not necessarily have to make sense as long as the story is crafted well and the actors can pull it off.

  2. modern day psychoanalysis are some of my favorite movies. Big names like Fight club, A beautiful mind and so on...