Note: If you’re allergic to SPOILERS, you probably don’t want to read this review before seeing the film. If you’d like to try anyway, or if you’re willing to give it a skim, I’ve tried to keep them to the latter half of the review, and I’ve marked the spot where the spoilers begin in earnest.
Christopher Nolan’s films tend to be ruminations on loss and regret — tender morsels of bleeding humanity wrapped in an increasingly glossy, protective coating of hard-edged technical sophistication. When you get past the estimable Hollywood sparkle, you find simple dramas tightly wound around the center of each film. Leonard Shelby loses his memory and gains the capacity for infinite self-delusion. Bruce Wayne loses his parents and sacrifices his own life for the public good. Robert Angier nurtures a revenge scheme that blossoms into an endlessly cloned act of self-destruction. To be a Nolan protagonist is to perch on a razor’s edge between reason and impulse, between sanity and mania, between reality and dark dreams of aggrandizement and/or immolation of the self. The films are things of beauty, precisely constructed and expertly executed. But you wouldn’t want to live there.