ash’s review published on Letterboxd:
“I’m the Protagonist.”
Posterity. Tenet is a film reliant on the past, momentarily in the present, in debt to the future; time folds into itself, into circles, into manifestations beyond the human perception of linearity. As we go forward, as we invert backwards, as we meet in the middle, linear meeting reversed entropy, time becomes a whole, a gesture, a combination folding into itself and its own actuality. Time far beyond us.
“Don’t try to understand it, feel it.” - words muttered in the film, perceived as a tagline, and there’s much to it. There’s plenty of meaning in that; it’s instinct, a feeling, a sort of intuition into figuring out the mechanics of inversion - objects, people, actions reversed in their own reactions. But there’s so much more in the understanding of the film’s physics - the idea of how an inverted material or person functions, the effects of such reversed entropies, the true and utter science behind such spectacles; the complexities of physics and time far beyond the simplicity of Nolan’s previous works, in a fully ambitious stance that is as easily and profusely understandable as it is complex in its intricacies, mechanics and perspectives, due in thanks to classic Nolan exposition. There’s a beauty in feeling the mechanics of the film and the sentimentality in the story through instinct and emotion, whilst understanding it wholly as a film with logistical science beyond reality.
Time has always fascinated me, as it has Chris Nolan; probably far more with him than it has with me. The true manifestation of it, the true and proper existence of it, in what original form it is supposed to be. The non-linearity of it that runs ahead of our linear human perception of it and the circles in which they run it, rather than the straight line we believe it to be. Closed time-loops circulating around us, bound to relive themselves over and over again as we move forward; complexities beyond our small imagination - time running in infinite ways.
There’s almost a terrifyingly existential dread to Tenet, in its tagline, ‘Time runs out’, in its plot that divulges into a cold war against the death of time itself and its normality among our existence, in the ferociously antagonising and violently volatile Andrei Sator that is brought to life so horrifyingly scary by Kenneth Branagh, in all it’s time-related trepidations. Yet, much like Nolan’s other films, it holds a high sense of hope and posterity, in the hopes of a better future, in the trustful guarantee of being better, in the human strive for ambition, endurance and survival. Human ambition, sentimentality and hope are core themes of Nolan’s works, central themes to his deeply nuanced and emotionally precious exploration of human desires, emotions and characters, and the core centre of Tenet is its Protagonist, similarly named The Protagonist, who holds a warmth to him along with a cold instinct that runs in line with justice and righteousness, whilst nuanced with sentimentality that drives his decisions and how it would affect those around him; a hero, a spy, but fundamentally a human role aching for posterity, righteousness and hope.
Tenet is an unforgettable film, an experience unlike any other, a love for filmmaking and for cinema that I haven’t truly felt in years, since Interstellar; love, respect and adoration that ties it with that exact film from years ago, as my favourite film. An ambitious, complex, smart and sentimental masterpiece that has truly captured my heart and my mind, in the most thrillingly visceral, emotional, cathartic and entertaining ways. Best film of 2020 right here.
“What’s happened happened. Which is an expression of faith in the mechanics of the world. It’s not an excuse to do nothing.”
“Call it what you want.”
“What do you call it?”