Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inception

I have a new favorite to add to my "Top Ten Movies" list: Inception. I've seen it twice. I loved every minute of it.

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento, The Prestige, etc.) Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, an expert at extracting secrets from people by entering their dreams and unlocking the buried information. But we learn that Cobb can also plant ideas in people's minds via their dreams. So in this story, he pulls off an ingenious layering of dreams in the mind of a tycoon named Robert Fischer in order to rescue a Japanese businessman and at the same time free himself from a life behind bars.

The technical wizardry required for such a feat is left largely unexplained - a wise move on Nolan's part. Rather than occupying our time telling us how the dream machine works, Nolan focuses on the internal conflict that drives Cobb and the lifelong burden that has haunted Fischer.

Dreams are great fodder for stories anyway. The Bible treats dreams as a milieu for communication from God and a place we go to express our deepest anxieties and hopes. Inception captures the latter very well. Cobb cannot escape the mistakes of his past. He is doomed to relive them over and over again in his dreams. Because he has never experienced redemption, his guilt is inescapable. Only the great exchange that happened at Calvary can eradicate guilt once for all. Unfortunately, the cross is absent in Inception. It's up to Cobb himself to figure out a way to put the past behind him and move on.

The other great theme in this movie is fatherhood. Cobb longs to be reunited with his children, and Fischer lives with an unfulfilled need of an affirming father. I won't give away how this theme gets developed, lest I spoil the adventure for you.

All the other elements are there in big supply: Matrix-like special effects, great acting and character development, awesome sound and music, and plenty of suspense. But ultimately it's a story about the human heart - its capacity for love, its wounds, and its irrepressible cry for wholeness.

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