Tenet ★★★

Not a connection I ever thought I’d be making, but the film I thought of most was OCEAN’S TWELVE: completely incoherent at first blush, enjoyable primarily via the hotness of its cast and the beauty of its locales. Or it was like watching any film in Italian without subtitles: I can understand most of the dialogue, but I’m so focused on translating (as opposed to understanding) that I lose track of it as a text. Here, 75% of the dialogue is inaudible - I have faith in Nolan, so I’m sure it would be a good film were I able to access subtitles; I couldn’t, however, so much of his (probably) sinewy puzzlebox plotting - that is, cinematic catnip for me - was unfortunately lost, leading me to fixate on form. And there’s one sequence that, even without dialogue, is blood-curdling; it marks the only time Nolan takes advantage of this gimmick for its potential as an omen, deriving more tension from one lurching, out-of-focus pan + a glass wall than most films do in their entire runtimes. The rest, unfortunately, seemed slack and loose in a way his films rarely are; this might be the film where his inability to write female characters finally attains critical mass, as much of the second act depends on Debicki’s psychological state yet the film never once allows us to access it formally (again, maybe it’s in the script), making much of its middle stretch seem like a faintly boring THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY on a yacht. So, so perplexing; I’ll watch it again later, with subtitles, at half speed, but for now I’m very disappointed.

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