Eric Trapp’s review published on Letterboxd:
Christopher Nolan takes your college dorm mate’s highdeas and, at any and all cost, uses an incredible imagination, technical skill, cinematic know-how, cutting edge technology and hundreds of millions of dollars to turn them into mind bending, capital “C”, Cinematic experiences.
At the end of the day, I feel like Tenet is exactly this. It is big, bombastic and realizes the idea of time travel in a way that I personally have never even seen before, executed in a way that is entirely unique to what movies, as a medium, can do. However, it does so at the cost of almost everything else it takes to make a good movie. The plot is paper thin, just there enough to kind of propel the story forward, but also at the same time overly complex. The characters are all empty shells meant only for plot progression, except for Robert Pattinson’s character, Neil, who was by far my favorite character. The charm he brought to this performance was undeniable for me and I was immediately taken with him. It also helped that he had a damn name. The main character doesn’t even have a name (His name is The Protagonist, like fucking come on.) Nolan’s treatment of women, or woman in this movie, singular, is minimal and dirt poor. There are no emotional stakes for the audience to invest themselves in at all. All we have to hang on is the most vague threat of world destruction. This is a movie that is all big, beautiful, exquisitely executed visual ideas, and also completely void of soul. And, you know what? I think I’m okay with this. All I have is a simple “Heart” or “No heart” rating scale, y’all, and this movie is really riding the line in a weird way.
Nolan is a “love him or hate him” kind of director nowadays, and I weirdly find myself very much in the middle. I think I’ve just gotten to the point where I don’t even expect for him to deliver on anything other than creative/complex plot ideas and visuals. Since I wasn’t expecting much else, I really liked what I got. However, I absolutely understand why people would bounce off this movie so hard and I think all of the reasons they have are valid. Hell, I have them too. It is nothing but shiny. I guess I just like shiny. I love seeing how he translates these concepts to the big screen. I know I’m always in for something I’ve never seen before and that is enough to excite me and for me to enjoy my time with the movie.
Some day, I would really love to see Nolan just go for it and show us his take of a modern day silent film. Because as it stands, the dialogue in his films now mean absolutely nothing. It is incoherent, overly complex gobbledygook that you either aren’t supposed to understand or aren’t supposed to hear due to the director purposefully jacking up the sound mix.
Incredibly excited for a second watch. I feel like there was no way this was going to be anything but a frustrating, head-scratcher of a first watch. It took an hour of discussion and deliberation for my sister, brother-in-law and myself to make sense of the full time line and particularly of the events of the film’s last sequence. I think with the knowledge and context of the story, a second watch will allow me to take the film in entirely and maybe clarify my feelings a bit. Does it stay shiny on repeat viewings or does it get duller and duller each time? Who knows.