A Dream Goes On Forever
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Leonardo diCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt
It has all the elements of coolness. International espionage, dapper sartorial style, designer urban spaces. And hot characters. (Don’t they even perspire? Grrr.) Sure, I won’t deny that I immensely enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s slick suits and gravity-defying fight scenes. Or Ellen Page’s smart clothes, and even smarter brain. And Marion Cotillard, mmm, who wouldn’t screw up their subconscious to grow old with that bombshell? Oh, and Leo was good, too.
But after more than two hours of pseudo-psychoanalysis chuchu, physics jargon and special effects extravaganzas, what the fuck was Inception really about?
Almost everyone I know has been raving about the dream-levels, the reality/dreaming quotes, the exciting action and the overall coolness—all of which seems to be succeeding, like an army of well-deployed projections, to distract everyone from the heart of the film: imperialist expansion and bourgeois romance.
We’ve been preoccupied throughout the film by the notion of “inception” and the really cool way Cobb’s (Leonardo diCaprio) team traverses the dreamed-up levels, but we forget why there is inception in the first place: to crumble a multinational energy superpower in favor of another. It’s really about a Japanese corporate titan (Ken Watanabe) hiring a bunch of experts to fuck with their competitor’s head just to they can maintain their economic and political reign. This is a capitalist empire so rich that for this special inception project, money is no object—you can even buy out an airline, if it makes it any more convenient.
The film is about dreams, all right: imperialist dreams. “An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules,” says Cobb, and isn’t that what neoliberalism has been slowly but surely doing to the world in the past few decades? This is an idea which, to borrow Cobb’s words, is “the most resilient parasite” that proves subtly infectious even to this film.
And what about love? Of course, people wouldn’t really patronize a film if it was purely about economic conquest. Enter Cobb and Mal (Marion Cotillard), the hopeless romantics who were willing to recoil into their subconscious just to be alone together forever. Sweet, no? And bourgeois. That kind of relationship—the we’re-only-for-each-other, decontextualized, apolitical, asocietal one—is the bourgeoisie’s wet dream. Leo and Marion share the same selfish fantasy, one where they can build as much as they want, grab as much as they can get, and have their way with the world, a world which they call their own, which they have all to themselves. Ironic, or apt, that one needs to die in order to fully enjoy this imperialist idea which Cobb planted in Mal’s head. As Inception’s poster tagline says it, “your mind is the scene of the crime.”
In the end, the team triumphs. Everyone happily goes home to their regular lives. Whose dream are we in?
It’s the imperialist dream. And hopefully, death isn’t the only way out. #
*apologies to Todd Rundgren
A super-shallow, even PR-sounding “review” of Inception:
Todd Rundgren: A Dream Goes On Forever
Entry filed under: Edgar Allan Paule, Foreign films, Full length films. Tags: architecture, bourgeois love, christopher nolan, corporate greed, dreams, ellen page, imperialism, inception, joseph gordon-levitt, ken watanabe, leonardo dicaprio, love, marion cotillard, neoliberalism, psychoanalysis, reality.