Tenet

Tenet ★★★★½

The natural conclusion Nolan's been building up to for years, and despite how messy, how plastic, how over-planned and over-done it feels, Tenet has legitimately revived my faith in blockbuster cinema.

And that's because at the end of the day, film is a medium where we can see in vivid reality a carefully curated set of images that are not possible in our own reality. Yes, writing and acting are important too, but ultimately we can find those in other artforms and I don't consider them to be what draws me to film.

Tenet realizes this and strips them to the side, at its detriment of course but it understands the big picture. The entire film is a setpiece, an exercise in post-producion of monumental proportions. Every performance involving the inversion of time becomes a carefully-programmed choreography right down to the last footstep, and even mundane actions such as walking through a room become physical stunts that must fit in perfectly with the rest of the puzzle.

This film then becomes one of the best representations of determinism I've seen purely through its massive commitment to relaying and rewinding the world at large. By showing on-screen this reversal of time in a dynamic environment in which the characters can actually interact and affect, the disconcerting nature of determinism and the utter futility of fighting it become clear, and honestly quite scary. The simple act of everyday life, of things that we see and actions that we do in the real world, but reversed, become utterly alien and existentially horrifying. Past and future are in continual conflict and their destructive effects care none about the present. Which are we, or more accurately, which 'we' are we right now?

Wonderfully, the film uses this foundation to constantly haunt our limited perspective. Plans within plans within plans, all contingent upon one another like briefcases that hold more inner briefcases which must be opened first to unlock the outer ones; yet somehow when you reach for the handle you find the entire thing pops open. How? Isn't that impossible? Yes, but only because we can't see the whole picture. We're trained to look for answers when we find questions, and not to look for questions when we find answers. This is a paradigm shift that could be represented through words, certainly, but a picture is worth a thousand of those and it's hard to deny the sheer impact of seeing a car chase backwards after you.

But please Nolan, for the love of god, hire a woman writer.

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