At present – Dunkirk notwithstanding – Christopher Nolan’s epitaph will be dominated by the Dark Knight trilogy, which recalibrated blockbuster superhero entertainment in terms of operatic scale and Gothic gloom. But he made more interesting movies before and has done even more interesting work since. Inception, in which gifted mind-detectives enter a client’s dreams with full access to their subconscious, is closer to Nolan’s lower-budget earlier film Memento, foregrounding the same puzzle-solving tricksiness but on a grander platform. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a good-looking cast – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard – and Nolan goes off the charts with imaginative, surrealist imagery: a city folding in on itself is the money shot, but a people-carrier cartwheeling in ultra-slow motion off a bridge is just as mind-blowing. You may lose yourself in its dream-within-a-dream-within-another-dream schtick but underneath all that, it has a fully functioning human heart.
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