Tenet ★★½

I've long held Christopher Nolan in high esteem - unlike many of today's most popular auteurs, I feel he's truly deserved all the praise he's garnered down the years. Tenet, however, has me questioning myself. I'd probably have rated it at least three stars regardless of its inherent quality, and simply as a gesture of gratitude that it - a defiantly original work produced in a Hollywood where pandering, derivative trash is the order of the day - exists at all.

Taken on its own terms, it's a frustratingly mixed bag. There are moments as bracingly kinetic as anything elsewhere in the director's oeuvre, and the sheer inventiveness of the concept kept me from being truly bored. The performances are all fine, and it was nice to see Nolan deviate from his usual greyish-brown colour palette, if only for one (albeit striking) scene. On the other hand, it's utterly inept where character is concerned - motivations are mixed and matched from Nolan's previous films in a way that veers close to self-parody, and don't even get me started on the thoroughly spurious "humour" and "emotional depth". Moreover, the plot is complete nonsense. At least Inception had the good grace to parcel out its exposition in handy chunks; here, the soundtrack is so blaring and insistent that huge swathes of said exposition are indecipherable, and the pacing so manic that you're constantly forgetting what you've just been told - if indeed you were told it in the first place.

If this is the film that has "saved cinema", I'm happy for it - thank goodness the honour won't belong to Wonder Woman 2049 or whatever bullshit. Still, it'd be nice if the film that saves cinema were one I actually gave a damn about once I'd left the theatre. One can but dream.

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