Tenet

Tenet ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

We live in a twilight world.

Long have movies been talked about in relation to time. Film has the power to alter time and have our brains take in said alteration while still following a narrative. Most films have time jumps - events that occur ten minutes apart, a day apart, 15 years apart, appear side by side in a film.

Films often dabble in non linear time. Flashback sequences and flash forward sequences are common place in modern filmmaking, and many filmmakers have moved away from a basic through-line or trackable thread for collections of scenes or vignettes that relate through tonality and theme.

This is sometimes why films are likened to dreams. Our dreams don't always present in real time - most dreams have jumps in time and location. People often theorize that this is why humans respond to film structure, not only is the experience emotional and cathartic but it's familiar. Understanding this helps us understand the argument that the exploration of time through the film medium is inherent.

Andrei Tarkovsky often talked about time in relation to films. He's quoted to have said: "Time, printed in its factual forms and manifestations: such is the supreme idea of cinema as art."

Also: "The image becomes authentically cinematic when (amongst other things) not only does it live within time, but time also lives within it, even within each separate frame.”

There are many different attributes of Tenet that make it a successful film. The obvious attribute being Christopher Nolan; his execution of the concept is smooth but precise, complex but engaging, and all together a tremendous achievement.

That being said, the concept gets you half of the way there. The way in which Nolan's script alters time, and turns the science on its head, is interesting enough. But the way he uses these concepts as a storytelling device, as well as presenting them visually, is remarkable.

Tenet now holds a unique position in film history. It joins a great number of films that have explored concepts of time, but is simultaneously so original in its presentation. Nolan uses extensive dialogue to set up the world he's built, and then leans on visual storytelling heavily during major plot points and asks the audience to keep up. Time is presented moving backwards and forwards simultaneously side by side and you're made to recontextualize the information in order to gain perspective. This allows the movie to hide its reveals until the last minute, because it's not spoon feeding you anything.

So scarcely do we associate big budget blockbuster movies with wading into uncharted territory or progressing the art form, but Tenet is definitely an exception. The visual components of Tenet are truly innovative and a brilliant use of the film medium.

And there are no friends at dusk.

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