Tenet ★★★★½

"What's happened has happened - which is an expression of faith in the mechanics of the world."

Nolan's most beautiful puzzle-box and a total joy to revisit - you go back to try to make more sense of it and somehow it always makes more sense than it did the last time. That being said I never realized how good Elizabeth Debicki's character arc was until this viewing! The "plot" is deliberately generic - the movie's protagonist is literally called The Protagonist. But that generic-ness is necessary for all of Nolan's formal interplay: it's never as detailed or as thoughtful as Interstellar, but it's in the same wheelhouse in terms of its consideration and manipulation of time in cinematic form - this time more directly so. In fact it's basically a merging of Interstellar and Inception especially given the latters relation to movie-watching and its subconscious effect, but here it's more directly about the possibilities that come within the exploration of form and structure - specifically filmic - themselves. At the same time it manages to (in a very sophisticated manner despite its bare "tenets" of plot!) continue Nolan's inquiry into non-linear time by way of the closed-loop of a time-space continuum - it's stunning that Nolan has managed to get all the way to entropy theories from physics having come from a very practical relationship to classic cross-cutting from his earlier work. In fact, this thing is so relentlessly logical that it almost seems avant-garde - particularly in it's mid-section. And it all fits together rather perfectly - a beautiful cinematic rubik's cube.

Because Nolan manages to couch all these complex ideas into such a tight, again *almost* generic framework, it's so much goddamn fun. People run back and forth through time via its MacGuffin-like hook, as though to turn time itself into one big playpen. Characters interact with and/or avoid themselves, they go back in time and re-do events that we've already seen while the original event still takes place, sometimes you even have to recalibrate your brain a little bit just to figure out where we are. There are six set-pieces in this film, yet technically only three. Two of them are repeats where the protagonist does different actions (but really continues since the original events are unchanged - what a lovely relationship to subjectivity!) while the climatic third/sixth has both happen simultaneously via Nolan's beloved cross-cutting. The kind of reflexivity on display here is unparalleled for a film of this scale.

Silent cinema for the 2020's. There are two possible outcomes here: one is that we’ll look back at this, dazzled and in bewilderment that this was ever even made. The second outcome is what it feels like: that we’re watching a blueprint for the narrative cinema of the future. Probably Nolan’s least accessible, but sometimes that’s the price you have to pay for evolving the medium in real time.

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