Tenet ★★★★½

I don't understand.

Not sure how this'll play against my previous reviews, but Tenet incepted itself into my brain last fall and never left. I think about it constantly.

And after finally revisiting it, I'm happy to report that everything fell into place. Nolan's idiosyncracies have never felt more unapologetic, so pushed to the forefront with no compromise whatsoever. The facade of higher thematic preoccupations present in his 00s films has collapsed entirely, and thankfully so has the (more successful but equally vapid) push toward sincerity in his 10s work.

In its place we have cold, fluid mechanics, and rather than grounding his muted madness in something we can hold onto, we're given nothing and told to like it. Hell, we can't even invest ourselves in the lead; Washington is a charisma-vacuum the likes of which I've never seen before, somehow giving us less than nothing, actively daring the audience to space the hell out.

And this time I did just that, and found myself blissfully lost in a sea of calculated digital nonsense without tangible motivation or goal, shapes and voices in service of a future that doesn't seem to exist with no past to reference as guidance. Instead, I'm caught in an infinite present, bodies in pursuit of nothing of particular value to me, but directed with a laser focus that I find compelling in itself.

And I totally understand anyone who writes Tenet off. Hell, I understand anyone who writes Nolan off. I'm still tempted to do that. But I'm happy that, for at least this go round, I was able to let go and enjoy something this singularly, genuinely commited to its own bullshit.

- Does your head hurt yet?
- Yes.

Cecil Selwyn liked these reviews