Imperator Ç’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.”
Nolan tells that to the dumb average viewer (or at least just me) in the voice of Clémence Poésy at the start of the film, and, well, can’t say I wasn’t warned.
After shitting on physics in Interstellar and telling the audience to fuck off by wrapping Dunkirk in a needlessly complicated time gimmick (I’m looking at you, manbabies who hail it as a masterpiece and say Greta’s Little Women is confusing), boy Nolan goes on to write and direct something beyond any law of physics, that plays with time back and forth and... I didn’t feel offended? But I understood none of it either.
But the fact is, in all of its mindfuck, Tenet is Nolan’s most humble original since Inception. And, thus, the best one too. It’s all about the concept; the man is undoubtedly smarter than most people, and he delivers it all here, by himself alone. No scientific paradox to ignore, no simple narrative to smarten up with “innovative” editing, nothing. Just him and his ideas. And that was beautiful.
I love it that he also joins this pantheon of rare directors, that do some utterly complicated movie that, even if one doesn’t get it at all, can still follow the plot, by the characters’ beats and the flowing editing — think Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. or PTA’s Inherent Vice.
I’m probably the stupidest guy here on Letterboxd, but no, I can’t summarize the plot of Tenet. I understood its heart, but its body is too much of a puzzle.
And to be fair, I don’t wanna solve it either. It came in, and when it went away, I no longer knew where I was nor where did I come from. It’s just this dazzling spectacle of sheer awe. I took it as I could, as far as my brains allowed, and I’ll just make peace with it, and with knowing that, for the first time in ten years, I like Nolan again.
But cut back on the exposition next time, man. And the sketchy British-russian accents.
P.S.: WB are so brave in dropping this as a goodwill gesture towards exhibition during a pandemic. Far too expensive to turn a profit this summer, and I don’t see further WOM from dumbfounded audiences propelling it to huge heights either. This was an act of sheer mercy, and I pray it’ll pull some sort of miracle, somehow, in the long run.
P.S. 2: If you’re checking this on a regular DCP showing, go for a screen with an 1.85:1 AR, to avoid seeing it windowboxed— or worse, zoomed in. Kinda sketchy from Nolan, sending a 2.20:1 pic to theaters, but anything goes these days.