jing @ ZFF’s review published on Letterboxd:
second watch and two things happened: i understood so much more of the plot, but at the same time, i have so many more questions.
other than turning my brain to COMPLETE mush, this rewatch also helped me notice a few things i didn’t pick up on the first watch. i read a lot of reviews that mentioned that the characters needed more fleshing out, and i completely agree. we don’t get any additional information on them, and as a consequence, it’s unbelievably difficult to understand their motivations. what drives these characters? what’s at stake for them?
of course there’s something “bigger” at stake, but nothing more “personal” (like interstellar or inception did so well).
subsequently, this film has little to no emotional impact, and it’s honestly what i missed the most. i used to have this rule of “if a film doesn’t make me cry, it’s not a good film”. (at least not for me.) and if i look at all my favorite films (and my favorite nolan films), it’s kinda true.
what further reduces any possible emotional impact is the structure. i couldn’t make out a real timeline, and the quick jumps between different places and the introduction of characters who end up saying less than a few sentences didn’t make it less confusing. i feel like my brain was way too busy figuring out what was even going on than to even subconsciously think about what these characters might be going through internally, which i feel like was maybe also nolan’s problem. it’s almost like he got too caught up in the concept of the film itself that he forgot to create emotionally rich and multidimensional characters like he normally does.
i saw this in a dolby cinema today, and the sound was definitely better, but not to the point where i could make out everything (or at least every important thing) they were saying, so i definitely think the sound mixing could’ve been better, which might’ve also helped with understanding this film.
there were also some inconsistencies in the editing and some misleading or confusing cuts that i noticed this time, and while it didn’t worsen the experience as a whole, there were some instances where different editing might’ve helped me better understand the storyline.
if this wasn’t a nolan film, i would probably give this 4 stars, but my nolan bias keeps my rating at 4.5 stars (at least for now). because i do really like this movie. i like its mind-bending concept, i like the twists and turns, i like the cinematography, i like the attention to detail that was obviously given to this project, i liked the incredible production design, and i like that robert pattinson’s character casually mentions that he has a masters in physics. and i actually really like those action sequences, and even though it’s no zimmer, i did enjoy the soundtrack a lot more this time. or maybe i should just quit thinking about what zimmer might’ve done with this.
what i feel like happened with this one is that nolan might’ve gotten a bit lost. he’s obviously striving for even bigger, even more mind-bending themes and stories, but by doing so, he compromises some other aspects that are critical to enjoyment and, like i mentioned, emotional impact. for some people it might be what makes this a “bad” movie, for others it might not weigh as much in relation to the other brilliant aspects of this film.