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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Inception

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Michael Caine and Leonardo DiCaprio star in "Inception."
With "Inception" (Warner Bros.)—an action film resting on a science-fiction premise—writer-director Christopher Nolan achieves a tour de force of spectacle and suspense. But, like many a less-sophisticated offering in the action genre, this ingenious brainteaser is rife with explosions and gunplay.

The price of admission to this wild ride includes accepting that, by the use of a mysterious gadget, characters can enter and share other people's dreams as they sleep. The master of this futuristic art is Dom Cobb (played with striking intensity by Leonardo DiCaprio), a corporate spy who uses his skills to intrude into the minds of high-powered executives and extract their most treasured secrets.

But Cobb is also a fugitive whose tempestuous past—the details of which are revealed to us only gradually—has left him haunted by the specter of his deceased wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), and unable to return home to his two young children.

So when Japanese CEO and behind-the-scenes string-puller Saito (Ken Watanabe) offers to have his legal slate wiped miraculously clean in exchange for a successful mission targeting Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), heir to a rival business that threatens to undermine Saito's empire, Cobb accepts.

Instead of tricking Fischer into disgorging information, on this particular raid into the subconscious, however, Cobb must plant an idea in Fischer's head and make him believe it to be his own, a nearly impossible undertaking, which those in the know refer to as "inception." Cobb is assisted in this by his longtime partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and by a team of new collaborators—architecture student Ariadne (Ellen Page), experienced dream traveler Eames (Tom Hardy) and shady chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao).

With Mal, meanwhile, getting into the habit of making unexpected and unwelcome appearances in Cobb's dreams—her incongruous presence could immediately destroy the elaborately constructed illusion he and his crew have prepared for Fischer—Cobb is increasingly caught between his professional aptitude and his personal instability.

While taut, complex—by the latter stages of his drama, Nolan is deftly shuttling among four different adventures unfolding simultaneously at various levels of Fischer's consciousness—and undeniably crafty, "Inception" engages the imagination more than the heart. Thus, though the Freudian-style conflict between Fischer and his dying father is at least intermittently affecting, the bond between Cobb and Mal never quite rises to the level of a touching romance.

Still, adults in search of challenging fare, and not adverse to some (mostly stylized) mayhem, will likely find this cinematic Rubik's Cube quite intriguing.

The film contains much action violence, some of it bloody, several uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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