For years now, I've always wanted to write an article about Christopher Nolan. I'm a huge fan of his work and since Inception he became my all time favorite filmmaker. The last statement sounds more like a fanboy who went nuts about one of the finest and most beautifully executed sci-fi films of the last decade, nevertheless I have an explanation. Among all the movies you've seen, you'll always have a favorite director. The choice is based in both pleasure and ideas. What does that mean? You'll be inclined to feel affection for a filmmaker that addresses you in a way that no other has done it before; that's precisely when ideas come into play. By "idea" I mean that you experience a deep connection either with the plot, the visuals, the style or the storytelling, etc. It only takes one scene or one shot for you to fall in love for a specific filmmaker.
That's what happened to me with Inception. After that moment, everything changed and I started seeing and analyzing Nolan's films differently. For the record, I've seen Inception more than one thousand times (for real!) and every time I enjoy the film as if it was the very first time. For an admirer that critically examined the work of his idol I think you can imagine my disappointment after watching Interstellar - the less Nolan movie within his brilliant filmography.
I'll start with Nolan's 2006 The Prestige. The film set the rules for the filmmaker's upcoming movies. For that purpose I've come down to next analogy; a short-story writer, a magician and a filmmaker converge into one single persona who is Nolan. For the three of them it's important -the space, the timing and the conflict. They have to engage with the audience quickly. The playing idea has to create a necessity in the reader/spectator but most importantly they have to hide something but leave the necessary clues to follow. The resolution is where we bring the big guns. As Nolan already stated in The Prestige, he cannot out of nothing explain this or that. It has to have a logical and plausible explanation so that audience wouldn't feel discomforted with the outcome. In narrative terms, The Prestige storytelling is all about rules and structure. Nolan will keep on exploring and refining this concept in Insomnia and he took it a little further into Batman Begins but by the time he made Inception he was ready to start bending those rules.
"Inception is not about being specific", that's what Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb character says about their plan to plant the idea into Fisher's mind. But the lines also serve for Nolan to openly tell audience that his film is not about specificity. Unlike The Prestige where rules dominated, Inception is about bending those as much as possible without breaking them either. Since the plot revolves about dreams and subconscious, then Nolan allowed himself to take his sci-fi/adventure/heist movie into new storytelling territory. Even if the characters can bend cities, create infinite roads or build entire cities, actual physics play an important game and that is why the characters cannot defy the rules of the actual world - they for example can't fly or move from one place to another without explanation.
In the end, Inception bends the rules that Nolan himself set in The Prestige but remains faithful to the principle of three-act-formula. Having seen Inception many times, I can doubtless and totally tell you that the Inception ending is as closed as it can be. There's no room for speculation. Cobb has returned home. Wanna know why I know it? Because the totem starts shaking and then scene cuts. If Inception dealt with physics as well, then it's obvious to believe that if something spinning shakes, that means it will undoubtedly fall. And by the time The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters we started to see some important, big and inexplicable plot holes which would be tremendously evident in Interstellar.
When the credits started rolling on screen, I didn't know what to think about Interstellar. I knew it was a Christopher Nolan film but it didn't feel as if he had directed it at all. Let me explain myself. For the first time since The Prestige, Interstellar characters were unrelatable and unattractive characters. Nolan's depiction of McConaughey's Cooper isn't as complex, deep and complete as DiCaprio's Cobb. Some have cheered Nolan for at last having crafted an emotional story that differs from his previous works. Feelings and emotions filled the picture but the idea that had to sustain the film collapsed in the third act.
The moment that Cooper enters the tesseract, the movie stops being a Nolan film. He transgresses his own rules completely and instead of taking his narrative into a whole new level, it feels like a step-backwards. The third act of Interstellar is less a sci-fi than a fantasy/adventure movie. If Interstellar was all about science, theories and experiments, then it's non believable what happened to Cooper and his miraculous return to the space station. The film stopped dealing with science and speculated a lot through pure fantasy. The movie finishes with a family reunion cliché that cannot be found in any other Nolan previous film.
I've seen Interstellar many times since it's blu-ray release but the more I see it the more I think the movie should have ended differently. I can but wish that the film had ended when the tesseract exploded, condemning humanity to extinction. That could have kept Interstellar aligned in tone with Nolan's previous movies.