MOVIES

Why Tenet’s Plot Is Confusing, According To Christopher Nolan

In a review for Looper’s sister site /Film, Jason Gorber called “Tenet” the “most Nolan-y of Nolan’s own films, amping the many quirks of this remarkable filmmaker’s visual, aural and temporal fetishes up to 11.” The positive review described it as “messily entertaining.” While the film does have its fans, it’s also sparked a considerable amount of backlash, thanks in part to its sound mixing, which can leave dialogue inaudible, forcing audiences to miss key exposition points. Nolan has since said that his sound mixing is a deliberate decision to create a more visceral experience.  

For Nolan, the most important thing is experience with a capital E. When asked by Stephen Colbert if his films had any meaning and if the director prioritized the cinematic experience above understanding films, the filmmaker said he preferred the latter. “If you experience my film, you are getting it — I feel very strongly about that,” the director said. “Where people encounter frustrations with my narratives in the past, sometimes I think they’re slightly missing the point. It’s not a puzzle to be unpacked.”

It’s sort of hilarious how “Tenet” has been heralded as this herculean film that has to be unpacked when the picture features dialogue that explicitly tells the audience to focus on the experience, not the logic. “Don’t try to understand it; feel it,” says Clémence Poésy’s scientist in the film as she tries to explain the idea of moving objects back through time. That suggestion obviously went over the heads of some viewers, including Christopher Nolan’s own Peloton instructor, who said, “You need to be a neuroscientist to understand [it].”

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