Dan Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
“You musn't be afraid to dream a little bigger darling.”
I don’t think I’ve seen this film since it first came out, and while I still enjoyed it on rewatch, I just think subsequent viewings sort of take something away from the initial mind blowing aspects of the film. When it’s good, it’s really good, but there’s still plenty that I find issues with. Nolan certainly knows how to make crowd pleasing blockbusters that manage to feel clever and high concept but broad enough for all the enjoy.
My main issue is the same I had with the Batman trilogy that I rewatched recently. It’s rather bloated. The plot establishes itself as high concept and big from the start, but with that comes exposition overload. The first hour or so of the movie is just the characters talking about the plot, or the means in which the plot will happen. There’s little genuine interaction, it’s all just exposition told in a rather clunky way. Just giving these characters a more natural feel to their interactions and dialogue, like they were real people would improve so much for me. I understand that it’s necessary to move the plot forwards and to help the audience understand the intricacies of the plot, but it could be told in a better way.
The second half fairs better. Gorgeous effects and stand out action set pieces that are at once exciting and gripping, but also visually impressive. Combine that with the gorgeous bombastic score and this second half is pure entertainment. The dream within a dream within a dream is played out really well. It’s these moments that you really feel how intricately laid out the plot is, moving from scene to scene, and different dreams without it feeling muddled or confusing. It paves the way for a tense finale, wrapping up everything that we understand about the lead character in an open ended but not unsatisfying way.
The entire cast are good together, all playing off of each nicely with some good chemistry, but it sort of feels like they’re all wasted. None of them really feel like real people. It comes down to the fact that there than Cobb, none of them are given much of a backstory, or motivations for why they’re doing what they’re doing. It leads to them all feeling a little underdeveloped. All giving good performances but you just know that each could do better with a better script and more to do. Dicaprio fairs a lot better, Cobb as a character is complex, with a detailed backstory and issues that we’re presented throughout the film, he had challenges to overcome, issues that get resolved by the ending. All brilliantly performed by Dicaprio.
I still enjoyed the film, it’s just this time around I noticed a lot more flaws. It still looks brilliant, and the plot, once it gets going is really enjoyable and engrossing. There’s just too much fat around the edges, and it never quite manages to pull that same level of excitement as when you first see it.