Will You Understand Inception?

The Dark Knight’s billion-dollar gross two summers ago bought director Christopher Nolan the right to follow it up with pretty much anything he wanted on Warner Bros.’ dime — and he has! This summer’s Inception cost $160 million, was shot in at least six countries, and packs a plot that sounds not totally unlike that of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus — it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as “a dream thief who plucks secrets from the minds of tycoons after pumping them full of drugs and hooking them up to a mysterious contraption.” We’re excited to see it since it’s seemingly the only movie out this summer not about gladiators or a team of military-discharged mercenaries settling a score. But will audiences actually understand any of it?

Geoff Boucher visited Inception’s Los Angeles set last summer for a piece in yesterday’s L.A. Times, and was asked by Nolan, “So you’ve read the script — did you understand it?” Boucher calls it “Hollywood’s first existential heist movie” and a “globe-trotting movie [that] may have had its subconscious baggage packed by Sigmund Freud.” And DiCaprio tells him, “Complex and ambiguous are the perfect way to describe the story” (can they use that on the poster?).

Also, here’s how Nolan explains Inception’s dream logic:

“You can look around and examine the details and pick up a handful of sand on the beach,” Nolan said. “I never particularly found a limit to that; that is to say, that while in that state your brain can fill in all that reality. I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have. Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.”

Got it? Nolan also showed up to confuse fanboys at WonderCon on Saturday, screening a sizable chunk of footage that earned this rave review from Hitflix’s Daniel Fienberg: “If you asked me to explain the plot of Inception to you, I wouldn’t even begin to know where to start.”

So Inception looks great and all, but will Batman-expecting audiences be walking into a $160 million David Lynch movie this July? How many times will we be tricked into believing that a character’s dream is actually reality (or vice versa)? Will the whole movie just be somebody’s hallucination? Will Nolan even tell us if it is? (Also, will it be as interminable as having someone tell you what they dreamed last night?) Will our friends have to explain it to us as we leave the theater?

Here’s Inception’s most recent trailer, which clears up none of this:

’Inception’ breaks into dreams [LAT]
WonderCon audience gets an ‘Inception’ tease [Hitfix]

Will You Understand Inception?